From barnyard to backyard: Chickens could come to Eau Claire

By: Kelly Schlicht Email
By: Kelly Schlicht Email

As Greg Pavek rakes his leaves and tends to his organic garden, he says he hopes to maybe one day add a chicken coop to his Eau Claire backyard.

"I’d like to raise it for my daughter, who is pregnant, and has a small child, because I can't think of a better gift than homegrown food for a child,” says Pavek.

A local movement called E-CLUCK, or Eau Claire Leaders for Urban Chicken Keeping, has organized on Facebook. The group says many other cities now let people raise chickens at home. Local supporters say it fits in with green initiatives.

“My opinion is that it's all about sustainability. It's a healthy way to keep your own food and your personal freedom,” says Eau Claire City Councilman Andrew Werthmann.

Werthmann wrote the ordinance to be proposed to the council. He says under it, people in Eau Claire could own five hens or less, but no roosters due to noise. The birds would be confined to a roost area and could not be slaughtered within the city limits. Werthmann says he's been working with the health department and other city departments to make sure the ordinance has people's health and safety in mind.

One animal control officer says he's on the fence if chickens would be good for the city.

"I feel like we'll have more people concerned with the care and the keeping of chickens, if anything, rather than having the chickens in general,” says Community Service Officer Jordan Rooker.

Some people we spoke to in downtown today say they're not opposed to having the chickens, but they're not sure it will work in every neighborhood.

“It wouldn’t bother me, but I wouldn’t know about downtown for safety,” says Eau Claire resident James Lagesse.

Werthmann says the council and the city are still divided on the issue, so he's not counting his proverbial chickens before they hatch, as to whether the measure will pass.

Council Member Dave Duax told us over the phone Sunday that he's not keen on the idea of chickens right now, but needs to look further into the issue before making an official statement on it.

The City Council will have the first read-through of the proposed chicken ordinance this week Tuesday at its meeting. It may decide on the ordinance in two weeks.

Werthmann says up until 13 years ago, the city didn’t have an ordinance regulating chickens. He says the council passed the current ordinance banning the raising or ownership of domestic fowl in an effort to control the animals. According to an animal control officer, the current fine for keeping chickens in the City of Eau Claire is $215.

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  • by ellen Location: eau claire on Apr 25, 2010 at 06:47 PM
    Here are some other concerns a few people on my side of town have. Lots of people think that the raising of chickens for eggs in town will open up a lot of issues that will not be able to be resolved. There is no way of controlling or monitoring who and when people will kill the chickens for their own consumption (even though it is against the law). I don't think that most people that have sick or injured chickens will spend the money to bring them to a vet’s office or have the city come and remove the animal. The city health dept. is busy enough now without worrying about checking up on the chickens! Also, I know there is a section stating about dogs and cats that kill or injures a chicken shall not be considered a dangerous animal. What is to stop a person that has a chicken from suing the dog/cat owner for the dog/cat killing a chicken in the person’s yard?
  • by Tired of it on Apr 14, 2010 at 11:18 AM
    Eat mice! Chickens also eat each other. I have to agree with Kevin. We have a horse and two pigs. Maybe I should move in to your neighborhood and test the constitutionallity of a law that allows one farm animal and not another. How about turkeys! Or geese! I can claim discrimination. I'll be rich!
  • by Chris on Apr 14, 2010 at 09:20 AM
    Regarding the comment about mice in a coop. It has been my experience and knowledge that chickens actually eat mice.
  • by Kevin Location: Eau Claire on Apr 14, 2010 at 07:26 AM
    This city can't 'police' other ordinances such as barking or off leash dogs, vehicle parking or noise problems to name a few. Sure there might be a 'fee' to keep chickens, but the revenue generated won't be enough to support the enforcement of the ordinace. If someone wants to raise chickens, move to the country or Chippewa Falls! What's next, pigs, llamas, cows, turkeys, goats?
  • by Anonymous on Apr 13, 2010 at 02:18 PM
    You can probably tell from the posts who has had farm fresh eggs from a real farm. Put other eggs to shame.
  • by Anonymous Location: Eau Claire on Apr 13, 2010 at 02:05 PM
    I support the proposed ordinance permitting keeping hens (not roosters!) within Eau Claire, provided folks follow the housing restrictions and health procedures that the proposed ordinance includes. People right now can choose to own a dog -- and dogs are noisier and more dangerous than hens, and you can't eat their eggs! If the city is having problems with dogs (and how many complaints is the city receiving about them?), let's address that directly, not by restricting people's choice to own hens! There are a lot of people in this community with food security issues; more than most people realize. Chickens would be an affordable way for them to secure a safe, humane protein supply. They can also help in sustainable vegetable growing. The ordinance will not require those who object to the work, the noise, or a coop on their property to keep hens; people who think it sounds like a bad idea should probably not get any hens! Let's let other people make their own choice!
  • by Anonymous on Apr 13, 2010 at 10:03 AM
    Funny how no one mentioned the mice and rats that collect in coops. I personally do not live in EC so I don't care, but just wondering if anyone realizes that you must have cats with a chicken coop, the mice are terrible.
  • by Mary on Apr 13, 2010 at 09:48 AM
    Just remember that it is a lot easier to get something approved than it is to get it changed when it is abused, as we all know it will be. Ask the residents of Madison. I know of people in Madison who abuse the ordinance and complaints to the city are responded with,"You should have researched more before you bought in that neighborhood", and "It's part of their religion and we don't want a lawsuit". FWIW, there was never a law against raising chickens in Madison. All the new law did in 2004 was to allow residents to build chicken coops in town.
  • by Lisa Location: Eau Claire on Apr 13, 2010 at 09:27 AM
    I think it should be approved, but I do agree their should be a permit for having them as well as routine inspections of the coop. If at any point their is complaints about your property you will be warned, 2nd time you will not be allowed to keep them. I do believe we should be able to choose what we eat and what the animal we eat is eating for food! We are not asking to to have horses and cows, but a few chickens people lets be serious if we have 4 or 5 chickens and it is keeped under control with ordiances and they are strick rules their should not be a problem. It's not like Everyone is going to want them, but for those who do want to they should be able to on their own property.
  • by Birdy Location: Eau Claire on Apr 13, 2010 at 07:50 AM
    Keeping a few Hens is a practical way to have fresh eggs, the occasional pot of chicken soup, and a means of controlling bug populations in the kitchen garden. The reasons are obvious. Chickens are great company and, as far as household critters are concerned, they earn their keep. A few healthy hens provide enough eggs for a small family to eat and cook with. Because you control their food and water, you know your eggs are from healthy chickens, not a factory farm. Great for bug control that might infest your garden and lawn. They also produce high-quality manure that, when combined with your compost, makes nutritious food for your plants. Perhaps thinking forward and focusing on the positive. Possible Egg and natural meat donations to the groups and organizations who feed the HOMELESS of Eau Claire. In my opinion, they offer educational values not found in video games and they don't have loud parties into the early morning hours nor do they bark all night !!! Lets give them a chance.
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