SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- It's unclear how they got, here, but hundreds of chickens have come home to roost at the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks.
"Chickens do carry lice and mites, and their droppings, just like any bird droppings, can cause respiratory illnesses in humans," said Jennifer Alexander, an entomologist at the Environmental Division of U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii's Directorate of Public Works.
"They may also carry parasites and fleas," she said.
Additionally, the chickens have free range of the clinic parking lot and surrounding area, where they can cause traffic problems for patrons and nearby motorists.
In short, said Alexander, they have to go.
DPW is teaming up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to trap the fowls, which will then be made available for adoption.
"The chicks can be raised to become good pets," Alexander said. "They can be raised to become loving and affectionate just like any other pet, and the hens produce eggs. The adults are feral, but they're used to being around people and would adapt well to any situation.
"They're fun to watch and good at keeping bugs and pests out, and farmers like to use their droppings for fertilizer because of the nitrogen," she continued. "Actually, they can be pretty awesome -- just not at a health clinic."
Alexander has been keeping track of the chickens since the beginning of the year and noticed a drastic increase in the population since then. At last count in early June, she estimated there were 150 chickens, roosters and chicks in the area surrounding the clinic.
"So you can expect quite a few chickens in a short amount of time," she said.
The chicken trapping was tentatively scheduled to begin the week after the Fourth of July weekend, she said, and will continue in small batches. The chickens will be trapped in baited cages or caught in nets by hand in a manner that minimizes harm to the birds, she added.
Chickens, roosters and chicks that are not adopted will be humanely euthanized by lethal injection in accordance with guidelines set forth by the American Veterinary Medical Association, Alexander said.
Those interested in adopting chickens should make sure that doing so is not a violation of applicable housing and community association policies or any laws and ordinances. They should also be prepared to sign a waiver releasing the Army of responsibility upon adoption of any chickens.
Residents in Island Palm Communities housing are not allowed to have chickens at their homes, according to IPC Property Management Coordinator Teresa Brown.
According to Section 4.1 of the IPC Residents Guide, "Wild animals, farm animals and exotic animals (examples: pigs, rats, mice, chickens, monkeys, reptiles, spiders, snakes) are not allowed."
Chapter 7 of the City and County of Honolulu's Revised Ordinances of Honolulu states that "the number of chickens or peafowl shall not exceed two per household."
Those found to be in violation of this ordinance may be fined or face jail time, depending on the severity of the violation.
Those interested in adopting chickens caught at the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks should contact DPW entomologist Jennifer Alexander at (808) 656-3093 or (808) 927-6616.