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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