Banks calls chook shoot 'wanton destruction' (+video)

By Alice Neville

Animal-loving Auckland City Mayor John Banks says the recent shooting of chickens in Albany is "an act of wanton destruction and an animal rights outrage".

Last week, North Shore City Council officers caused alarm when they were seen shooting the chickens, which roam in the Kell Park area.

In an interview in the Weekend Herald in March, Mr Banks said he was fond of "buying wheat and taking it up to Albany on a Sunday, in the pockets of a motorcycle jacket, and feeding it to those beautiful chickens and roosters that wander around the village there. That is marvellous. That's my recreation."

North Shore City Mayor Andrew Williams said he appreciated Mr Banks' concerns about the shootings, but they were a last resort.

"I share his animal rights concerns, but we have been working closely with the SPCA to solve a difficult situation."

The SPCA had called for the removal of the chickens on the grounds they were abused and neglected and encouraged people to dump unwanted poultry in the area.

Mr Williams said he, too, had had some "difficulty with [the shootings] from a humane point of view".

"North Shore City Council has been addressing the issue by humanely rehousing the vast majority of the chickens," the Shore mayor said.

"But as a last resort it was determined that we had to remove a few chickens. It was just a handful of roosters that proved very elusive."

Chicken numbers had risen as high as 300 and there were significant health and welfare issues.

"We were shown photos by the SPCA of chickens which had serious wounds, were malnourished and had diseases. They were in a very sad state," said Mr Williams.

There were also health issues because of bird droppings in playgrounds, on seating and in picnic areas, he said.

Mr Williams also denied a local newspaper report that in response to the negative reaction to the shootings from the Albany Village Business Association and others, the council had agreed to stop the cull.

The shootings were carried out as planned, he said, and were not stopped early because of any public pressure.

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