living underground in the real world

Anne Muller’s letter to the editor re: you-know-whats

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.

I’m totes changing my name to “radical vegan obstructionist.”

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.

Anne Muller

10 Responses to “Anne Muller’s letter to the editor re: you-know-whats”

  1. Deb

    “If there was going to be a spike in animal neglect and abandonment we would have seen it already…”

    AND WE HAVE. What on earth makes her think that we haven’t?

    Talk to anyone who rescues chickens, talk to any animal shelter, and they’ll rant for hours about how many more chickens are being found abandoned, and how full every sanctuary who takes chickens is ever since the backyard chickens became a fad.

    Reply
    • lagusta

      Yeah. Seriously. That’s not from Anne’s letter though, that’s from Dave’s (the same Dave who’s been commenting so much on my chicken posts). :) (Ah, cryptic blog posts…)

      Reply
  2. d.bear

    Anne Muller, you are PERFECT. You said all the things and then went the extra mile. And, to turn my admiration of your writing into worship, you correctly apostrophized something that most people would not. Thank you for your amazing clarity on this issue (and for Stevens’).

    By the way, has everyone read Dave’s twitter bio and his tweets? One might find more insights into his “pro-chicken” rants and general mindset there.

    Reply
    • angrychicken

      By Twitter bio you mean a quote from Thoreau’s Walden…Who are you people.

      Reply
      • lagusta

        People who know that question marks belong at the end of questions?

    • daveliepmann

      Serious question: what, um, offended you about my tweets? (If offended is the right word.) I am genuinely interested in what you perceive my general mindset to be.

      Reply
  3. lagusta

    Here’s Anne’s second great letter:

    A CHICKEN IN EVERY POT DOESN’T MEAN CHICKENS ON EVERY PLOT
    The New Paltz Village board seems to be rolling toward a law permitting poultry operations that would allow for three chickens on ¼ acre of land. That amount would go up as the acreage increases.

    One board member proposed a ½ acre minimum, but that was quickly changed to ¼ acre, a stone’s throw away from neighbors, where the stones could be flying from both sides in neighbor disputes. Neighbors will be impacted by noise, odor, and the insects, rodents, and rodent predators that will be attracted to the cacophony of chicken buc-buc sounds, excrement, and feed. Some of the wildlife attracted are rabies vector species.

    This law is just nutty when the following facts are considered:

    New Paltz has a large transient population, where there is no long-term commitment to the area’s property values, and where pet or livestock ownership is limited to only several years, therefore the rate of abandonment is potentially high once people move out of the area. Even if a landlord agrees, the landlord has no right to impact neighbors’ property, impact his or her other tenants, or tenants of adjoining property.

    If the proposal is to allow every man, woman and child to have a chicken in every pot, that doesn’t mean to allow chickens on every plot. When home owners bought into residential areas, the zoning code did not allow for poultry operations next door. They have every right to expect that code to stay in effect for the sake of their property values and quality of life.

    Further, if some people are engaging in poultry operations to have inexpensive “quality” food, then are they going to provide veterinary care for the chickens, or spend money to keep them from extreme temperatures of heat and cold? Two hundred and fifty million chickens died of heat in 2012 during the last heat wave.

    One of the board members mentioned that poultry operations were being done anyway in New Paltz. In another town that had considered and rejected the law, the people who had been in violation of existing law were trying to pass a law to legalize their operation, and were told they had to remove the chickens. The municipality didn’t say, “Oh gee, let’s pass a law to accommodate those who are breaking the law.” Would the same logic apply to littering or speeding?

    Let’s get real. Temporary variances can be given in cases where property owning neighbors agree that someone can have chickens, pending review after a period of time, but why pass a law that would IMPOSE livestock operations in residential areas?

    We are not discussing whether sustainable chicken farming should or shouldn’t be done, or whether eggs or chickens should or shouldn’t be eaten, we are opposed to poultry operations and their negative impact on residential areas. My hope is that sanity and sanitation will prevail.

    Anne Muller, Wildlife Watch, New Paltz 256-1400.

    Reply
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