Hens no longer rule roost in Albany

The Albany village may have a rooster on its logo but hopes to re-introduce a free-roaming chicken population to the area have been quashed by the Auckland SPCA.

Chickens once ruled the roost in Albany, but after reports of cruelty to the birds the population has been rescued by animal lovers and reduced to two birds.

SPCA chief executive Bob Kerridge said Albany's chicken population had an appalling history since the days when the birds were kept by landowners in what was once a predominantly rural area.

"There have been reliable reports of poultry run over by traffic, tormented by children, ripped apart by dogs, fatally shot by slug guns, injured by slingshots, pierced by crossbow bolts, reeled-in by poachers using baited hooks, clubbed to death with baseball bats or impaled with flounder spears."

Mr Kerridge said the chickens' scavenging-based diet had kept most of them in a permanently low physical condition, and their droppings had posed a threat to human health.

"In addition, their presence in Albany turned the district into a dumping ground for unwanted poultry from across the Auckland region."

Mr Kerridge said that in the past three years volunteers had re-homed almost 1000 birds and the North Shore City Council was trying to capture or eliminate the few that were left.

The Albany Village Business Association wanted to see a return to chickens through a managed population at Kell Park.

Association chairman Rod Klaassen told the Herald it had been planning to submit a management plan to the council but it required agreement from the SPCA which was not now forthcoming.

Mr Klaassen said he had consulted Mr Kerridge about how a chicken population could be humanely restored.

"He indicated he would help ... now he has done a total 180."

Mr Klaassen said there were only two chickens left from the population that roamed the area about 50 years ago.

The Kell family had donated the park with the proviso that a few of the chickens would be kept, he said.

"It has become part of Albany's identity with some people treating them as pets."

Mr Klaassen accepted the numbers had got out of control - up to about 200 a couple of years ag - but was confident it could be controlled.

Animal Rehoming spokeswoman Linda Nunn said her organisation had rescued, treated and re-homed almost 1000 of these chickens.

She was delighted that chickens would no longer be forced to live in a busy area.

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