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Red Deer chicken owners must register

Better count your chickens.

Red Deer’s extended urban chicken pilot project mandates that chickens be registered with the city’s Inspections and Licensing Department by June 20.

Joyce Boon, Permits and Licensing supervisor, said the registration process will allow the city to determine the number of chickens living in the city.

“It’s important for chicken owners to come forward so the city has a better understanding of who is out there,” said Boon. “We hope that it is not fearmongering that people will come forward.”

City council decided on Tuesday to extend the pilot until March 31, 2014, to formally gather feedback and to assess the practice of keeping chickens in the city.

Kristina Smith, a member of the Red Deer chapter of Canadian Liberation Urban Chicken Klub (CLUCK), is pleased that council decided to give the pilot a fair shot. Smith has three hens in her yard in Mountview. She said fewer than three chickens is not ideal because chickens are flock animals needing socialization.

Since the pilot was launched last year, the city has received few complaints. An estimated 20 families in the city keep the birds in their backyards, according to CLUCK. Smith said she is not surprised because chickens are less obtrusive than cats and dogs.

She encourages residents to educate themselves on raising chickens and to join the chapter’s Facebook group (CLUCK Red Deer) before they start building a coop.

Smith started raising chickens because she wanted to grow her own food. On average, Smith collects about a dozen eggs a week from her three hens.

The pilot program permits six chickens per household but roosters are not permitted. Boon said owners should expect a pre-arranged site visit in the late fall by a city staffer and someone who has a clear understanding of chickens and chicken operations.

Compliance officers will enforce noise or smell complaints under the Community Standards Bylaw.

There is no cost to register the feathered animals but owners must answer basic questions about the coop, the number of chickens and provide a photo of the chicken operation.

Those who fail to register their chickens within the four months will be asked to remove the birds.

City administration will bring a report to council in February 2014, a month before the pilot ends.

“I think that it is interesting that it is getting so much media attention,” said Smith. “Comparing it to the bike lane issue is not fair because the bike lanes affect nearly everybody in the city. This affects a very small number of people.”



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