Anne gave me permission to post this letter, so I am.
Also! Did you guys see in the original post where someone called me part of the Taliban? I’ve been dining out on that one ALL WEEK!
Also! Also! Our Unmentionable BFF had a letter too! It was pretty underwhelming, dude, let’s face it. I was expecting something mega!
I massively LOLed at calling me “anti-chicken,” though. That is freaking hilarious.
Why doesn’t the NPT put their letters online? Dumb.
Oh, and I just got around to reading this. Pretty great!
Anyway, here’s Anne’s letter.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Opposing the Buc-Buc Law
Like a tidal wave, town after town is caving in to the demands of some residents who want to raise livestock in residential areas. The label “locavore” has been used for this craze, but it is a radical departure from simply enjoying the health and environmental benefits of locally grown food. In that respect, I am a locavore, and thank the Huguenot Street Farm every day for being there. I am opposed to having livestock in residential areas. Whatever you want to call this phenomenon, it has been romanticized by those wearing rose-colored glasses, with nary a soul looking at its flaws or downside.
For the sake of wildlife, ecology, for the sake of public and zoological health, for the sake of avoiding public nuisance, for the sake of property values, and for the sake of the “agricultural” animals themselves, I think the officials of New Paltz Village and Town need to take a hard look at this latest craze and let time be the judge, rather than being part of what I see as a destructive experiment.
The verdict is far from being in, but if Catskill Farm Sanctuary’s Kathy Stevens’s analogy is right: that allowing agricultural animals in residential areas is comparable to the pot-bellied pig fad of years ago, then it doesn’t bode well for the animals, owners, or neighbors.
How can we not see what is coming down the pike when we allow confinement of agricultural animals in residential areas? Here’s a partial list:
Excrement leaching into soil and possibly affecting the water supply/a strong smell of excrement/attraction of insects, mice, and rats/dead chickens/possible roosters in the mix as sexing is often wrong/an attraction of wild animals to residential areas. The chickens and their feed are bait for a variety of wild animals, which will lead to trapping, no doubt. There will be “buc-bucs” all day. Find out what one chicken sounds like online at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdX9wHtAHd4 and then multiply it by the number of chickens your neighbor might have. Now try to sell your house in this economy because the taxes are so high and it’s difficult to stay here. A potential buyer comes and you have to explain what all the chicken wire, buc-bucs, smells, and Havahart traps are all about next door.
In order to get a realistic picture of what we could be in for, I called the code enforcement division of Pinellas County, the model law for the Village and Town of New Paltz, to find out what complaints, if any, they had received. It took forever to get to the right department, which could have eliminated some of the complaints from the start. I was told that I would have to have section/block/lot information for them to look it up. They could supply no statistical information because it simply wasn’t kept that way. Each complaint was kept separately and not associated with any other complaint. OK – then I asked if she knew approximately how many chicken related complaints had come in– “Plenty” she said. What was the nature of the complaints? “Garbage and trash – roosters” I said that I thought it was illegal to have roosters. “It is, but they have them anyway and we are down from 33 code enforcement agents to 9, so we can’t visit places anymore or act on the complaints.”
How old is the law? “About two months old.”
What do you think of the law, do you think it was a good law? She answered, “I think it was a poor choice.”
I then tried to get in touch with Brooklyn, NY “backyard chicken inspectors” but couldn’t find out who they were and called a precinct: “What chickens? That’s an agricultural animal. This is Brooklyn!” The police were totally unaware of this? What’s happening to our systems?
In case we need another concern – An agricultural expert was interviewed on NPR and he said that there must be a roof on the top of the confined area, not just to avoid predation by raptors, but so that passing birds don’t drop excrement that can cause disease, which could wipe out the flock and possibly be transmitted to domestic animals or even people.
I understand how forceful public will, or perceived public will, can be for elected reps, but I think all the elected boards of the village and town need to give this a hard look and think, and perhaps meet privately with people who may not want to go public with their real opinions. There is also the real possibility of needing an environmental impact statement prior to passing this as there surely will be a significant environmental impact.