The Chickens of Key West
Children are often asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Many answers are given; from firefighter to lawyer, even President of the United States. But few children, if any, ever respond with "I want to be a chicken catcher when I grow up!" But that is exactly what Armando Para has been hired by the city of Key West, Florida to do.
City officials have been taking complaints about some 2,000 chickens that run wild on the two-mile-by-four-mile island, according to Key West's assistant city manager, John Jones. Some residents have complained that the birds are disrupting their sleep with crowing, causing traffic hazards while motorists slow down or stop to let the birds cross, and are dangerous to family pets as the cocks defend their territories.
Mr. Jones said that Key West had been forced to pay overtime to Parks personnel who were capturing the chickens, in addition to their regular jobs. To solve both problems, the city commission decided three weeks ago to hire Mr. Para, a local semi-retired barber, as the city's chicken catcher. When asked in an interview with National Public Radio's All Things Considered host Michele Norris what makes a good chicken catcher, Mr. Jones said, "He's got to be - and I've told him and everybody, like, that he's got to be smarter than the chickens, okay?"
Mr. Jones noted that the chickens were being captured alive to be sent to a wildlife rescue organization outside of St. Petersburg and farms in central Florida. He ended his interview with Ms. Norris by offering to ship live chickens to any listener willing to pay the $30 to $35 shipping charges.
In the early 1900s many people raised chickens for food and sport, entering roosters in cockfighting events, which were popular. In recent times, the sport has been declared illegal and with the availability of ready-to-cook chicken in grocery stores, people have simply let the birds go free.
But not everyone wants to be rid of the chickens.
A local marketing firm has announced it will be putting together a new event called ChickenFest Key West. Among the activities offered during the festival will be a Foghorn T. Leghorn look-alike contest, a Fowl Ball gala, a Chick Flicks film festival and a Funky Chicken dance contest.
So, whatchya think?
Current Mood: amused