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Muncie Mulls Allowing Backyard Chickens

By Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR News | Published on in Agriculture, Community, Government, Local News
(Photo: Creative Commons Use License)

At a public hearing on an ordinance that would allow Muncie residents to keep chickens, council members heard passionate pleas from chicken fans.  And, as IPR’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, they also heard concerns about how much strain city chickens would put on the local animal shelter.

The poultry ordinance is specific – up to six female chickens may be kept if it passes.  No roosters allowed, as well as things like turkeys, ducks, and geese.  Eggs are to be for personal use only.

Shelly Fruitt runs a Facebook page in support of Muncie chickens.  She says while someone everywhere will break laws, those in favor have good intentions.

“The people who are here who want chickens love chickens.  And we have like 500 people on the Facebook page I’ve created that – we love chickens.”

Another person in favor told the council members that Muncie Public Library’s catalog includes twelve books on chicken-keeping, so there are local resources available.

Those opposed are worried about predators like coyotes and raccoons being increasingly attracted to neighborhoods.  And, like Mary Stilts, diseases that are carried in chicken droppings.

“Anytime they go out and clean these coops, that stuff’s going to become airborne.  I don’t want one of my kids or my grandkids to be exposed to histoplasmosis.”

But Ethan Browning, head of Muncie Animal Care and Control, says he’s worried about the extra money, staff, and room the shelter would need to make sure people followed the rules.

“I have 59 ordinance violations to see tomorrow in city court on dogs and cats alone.  So, people are definitely not intrinsically motivated just to take care of the animals.”

Browning has been asked to come up with a potential budget impact of the poultry ordinance on the shelter.  He could present it at Thursday evening’s second hearing, scheduled for 7:00 PM at City Hall, and broadcast on the city’s Facebook page.  The city council is expected to vote on the ordinance on July 6.