Feral chickens are taking over Hawaii. These are not your garden-variety feral chickens. These are super turbocharged feral chickens that have adapted to survive near humans. The elusive beasts are now tearing up the landscaping, gardens, and farms of unsuspecting humans. They’re blocking traffic. They’re also incredibly noisy and disturb the rest of the people trying to enjoy the peace and quiet of this former island paradise. The really scary thing about the situation is that the authorities have been unable to get rid of these nightmare chickens.
The feral chickens are everywhere on the island of Kauai. They’re roaming around in city parks and grocery store parking lots. Restaurants put up signs warning diners not to feed the feral chickens, otherwise, they’ll come back. Just like bears.
The chickens roost in trees at night. The roosters begin crowing well before dawn each morning and never seem to stop. The roosters are bright orange, red and black, but the hens are camouflaged. They blend in with the bushes, and you never see them coming.
Local lawmakers have been trying to reduce the number of these feral chicken nuisances for years, but nothing has worked so far. They’ve hired chicken assassins and chicken wranglers to try to reduce the birds’ numbers, but the chickens keep coming back. They tear up newly planted condo landscaping and gardens. They stop in the middle of roads and cause traffic jams. As The Atlantic magazine put it, “In the fight between humans and chickens, the chickens are winning.”
By comparing the modern DNA of these feral chickens with the wild chickens from Polynesia, scientists have determined that these beast chickens were brought over centuries ago. The Polynesians carried pigs, dogs, and red jungle chickens with them when they originally settled in Hawaii. The feral chickens running around today are direct descendants of the red jungle fowl from Polynesia way back when.
While the red jungle fowl were domesticated originally, they’ve now gone feral once again. Scientists studying the beasts have determined that they actually retained the best group behaviors of domesticated chickens while adding the resiliency of wild birds. Their immune systems shrug off parasites that could kill a domesticated chicken.
They also breed year-round, and because the feral hens have adapted to incubate their eggs (which domesticated chickens often don’t do), their population is growing faster than that of feral cats or other wild animals. Officials on Oahu spent thousands of dollars on chicken traps last year, but so far, they’ve only been able to capture 67 of the elusive beasts. They’re smart enough to avoid the traps.
Some people hunt and eat the feral chickens, and others gather their eggs to eat. Hawaiian lawmakers have also tried to impose fines on tourists and residents who feed the chickens. Nothing has worked to put a dent in their numbers. The legislature tried to pass a bill to develop avian birth control to give to the chickens, but it was voted down.
The feral chickens are so resilient and wily that it looks like there’s only one solution to the problem. Hawaii should be abandoned. The chicken experts at The Atlantic say the chickens are winning anyway. It’s time to cut our losses and get everyone out of Hawaii before it’s too late.
Here’s a local news report from Hawaii on the feral chickens that are taking over the islands. Prepare to learn more about feral chickens than you ever wanted to.