Chickens and roosters are being dumped on roadsides around New Zealand by poultry owners too gutless to kill birds that no longer lay or they can’t keep.
The dumping of the birds has angered animal lovers who say it is cruel and places the birds at risk.
Nelson Poultry Association committee member Karen Smith said poultry dumping was cowardly.
‘‘If you start a life you should be able to end it as well,’’ she said. ‘‘Why didn’t the owners just bop them off? Why didn’t they at least cull them or offer them to somebody?’’
The chickens left to fend for themselves in the wild would be ‘‘fairly well predated on’’ by hawks, ferrets, stoats, rats and wild cats.
Rather than dumping them there were ‘‘oodles’’ of people who could find homes for the birds, including poultry groups, she said.
‘‘There’s usually somewhere you can find a home for them.’’
Chickens no longer producing eggs and unwanted roosters were being dumped all over the country, Smith said.
‘‘On the poultry Facebook pages, you quite often get comments around that.’’
It is an offence under the animal welfare act to release an animal without making sure it can fend for itself.
The territorial birds stay where they are left, forming colonies.
Some of the hotspots for chicken dumping in the region include the Whangamoa Saddle, the Takaka Hill and in the Upper Moutere area.
Smith said they tended to ‘‘stick within an area once they had found somewhere hospitable’’.
The good news for the abandoned poultry is that plenty of locals enjoyed picking up the strays.
‘‘People often stop if they’ve got a chance and grab them if they can.’’
Smith said she had bought chickens off a woman who ‘‘did exactly that on Upper Moutere Hill’’.
She knew one gentleman who was ‘‘rapt’’ with the two he had recently plucked off the Whangamoa Saddle.
He bought more chickens to go with the strays to make them a group and was going to see if he could catch the rest off the saddle, she said. Catching the birds was not difficult. Chickens can’t see in the dark, so scooping them up in the evening while they were perching would be a cinch.
Many unwanted chickens and roosters are taken to the SPCA.
Nelson SPCA employee Nicola Blasdale said it often had roosters dropped of which were ‘‘almost certainly dumped’’.
Nationally, roosters are strictly permitted in rural areas only.
‘‘We quite often have them brought in here as strays by concerned members of the public. We do struggle to find homes for them because there’s only a certain number of people out there that want a rooster.’’
Hastings Poultry and Pigeon Association secretary Judi McNeur said people needed to be educated about the responsibility of chickens.
‘‘Chooks will not lay for ever and ever.
‘‘Know that you make a commitment on an animal and don’t treat them as disposable.’’