Bastrop City Council asking for ideas to solve feral chicken population

Chickens in Bastrop are running wild and many people who live there say they are fed up.

The City held a meeting Wednesday to find solutions to the overpopulation problem.

A city official said the problem started when Bastrop built the convention center on farmland where the chickens used to roost. That pushed the chickens out into the neighborhood, so the city turned Farm Street into a chicken sanctuary, but the birds didn’t stay there either.

“There’s chickens all over town,” said Jane Campos who has lived in Bastrop for more than 50 years. On her street, which was declared a chicken sanctuary by the City of Bastrop, it’s normal for the big birds to run free.

“This is part of Bastrop and part of the unique area that we live in,” Campos said.

The sanctuary is not fenced in and now feral chickens have multiplied and spread all over the city. “The folklore is that we actually have a sanctuary. When, if you actually think of the definition of a sanctuary, we neither have the resources or the habitat or the property or the maintenance or all the things that are actually needed for a sanctuary,” said Charlie Amos who lives just outside the sanctuary area.

The wild birds are causing a multitude of problems for people who live near Farm Street.

“It’s disturbing people’s sleep, they crow in the morning, crow in the evening, crow all day. They tear up the flower beds, they scratch up the mulch,” said Bastrop Animal Control and Code Enforcement Office Troy Walters.

“They’re out of control. They’re definitely a nuisance,” Amos said.

“People that don’t want them around there, you’re going to have to put chicken wire around your yards,” said Campos.

Walters said chickens outside of the sanctuary must be kept in a coup, but capturing the huge feral chicken population isn’t easy or productive at this point.

“I can trap a dozen, two dozen chickens. It takes a lot of energy and labor to do that. You can’t catch them. They run very fast, and when you do catch them, you drive around the corner and there’s a mother with her babies and they’re being replaced,” Walters said.

Wednesday, more than 60 people filled City Hall to discuss the problem with council members.

Council hoped someone in the meeting could recommend a better solution to control the chicken population. “Now that the problem is out of control and we have a lot of feral chickens out here, it’s going to take the cooperation of neighbors and the city to gradually reduce and eliminate the feral population or relocate them,” said Amos.

Campos said the chickens have just as much right to roam around Bastrop as the people there do and she likes having them around her home.

“The chickens eat bugs, they get rid of the bugs that are around here. The chickens lay eggs obviously, they live in harmony with the ecology,” Campos said.

However, even Campos agrees it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. “I don’t think we have a problem with chickens going extinct anytime soon, not around here,” said Amos.

Solutions suggested at Wednesday’s council meeting include restricting people from feeding the birds, starting a program for people to care for them and even removing Bastrop’s protected status for the chickens.