Poipu Beach: Analyzing T&L’s #1 Beach in the USA Amidst Local Critique

Taming Kauai’s Roosters: Hawaii Enacts Law Controlling Feral Chickens

Kauai’s idyllic landscapes, as well as those on the other islands, have for years been increasingly overrun by an unlikely invader: its feral chickens. These birds, once limited to rural areas, have taken over and are very much in charge. Their unchecked population growth threatens native plants, food crops, and even road safety when drivers swerve to avoid them.

From the incessant crowing that disturbs sleep at 4:00 am to health hazards posed by their droppings and damage done, feral chickens have become a big enough nuisance that a new law went into effect yesterday to deal with the problem.

History of Kauai feral chickens.

Kauai, particularly areas like Poipu Beach Park (pictured here), is infamous for its feral chicken population. The issue was caused or exacerbated by hurricanes like Iwa in 1982 and Iniki in 1992, which destroyed many domestic chicken coops and released the chickens into the wild. Later these domesticated chickens interbred with wild junglefowl to create the out-of-control feral populations seen today. Junglefowl are originally from South and Southeast Asia, and some are direct ancestors of domestic chickens.

These chickens are now a common sight in parks, on beaches, and even in urban areas. At Poipu Beach Park, for example, visitors frequently encounter these birds, which have adapted to various environments and, as adults, lack natural predators. Their presence can be charming to tourists, who often feed them. However, they also pose several problems, including noise pollution from crowing, health hazards from droppings, and road hazards​.

Hawaii has enacted a new chicken law, effective July 1, 2024.

This legislation attempts to tackle the feral chicken crisis head-on. It involves a joint cooperation approach between the state Department of Agriculture and Hawaii county governments, focusing on control programs and public education campaigns.

Key aspects of the legislation include these.

Each county, working with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, will develop and implement strategies to manage its feral chicken population. Here on Kauai, that’s a huge challenge inasmuch as the problem has gone unabated for more than three decades.

Control efforts may include trapping and new and innovative solutions like OvoControl, a contraceptive feed that prevents eggs from hatching​. The manufacturer proclaims it “The Humane Society’s #1 choice for pigeon control,” and it’s said to be equally effective on chickens.

“If attempts to physically remove the pigeons and prevent feeding have failed, OvoControl emerges as the most effective, safe, and humane solution.”

From our decades-long attempts to remove chickens, we can say that it is a virtually useless proposition. BOH editors had a friend who used to collect chickens caught from neighbors to use as food to control the population.

OvoCotrol interrupts the breeding and repopulation of chickens with “birth control” for the birds. They say, “The pigeon population will decline at a rate of 50% annually, with an ending population of just 5-10% of the starting point.”

Public education about feral chickens is another crucial part of these efforts.

Campaigns resulting from the new law will discourage residents and visitors from feeding feral chickens, which exacerbates the problem. This can be seen, for example, at parks and other places where feeding has resulted in larger populations.

Lack of funding may slow the results.

At this point, the state has only allocated $50,000 to each county, which the counties are required to match. Even then, it isn’t clear if $100,000 per county could be enough to make a dent. A previous campaign on Oahu, which was based on trapping instead of birth control, resulted in very few chickens being captured.

What will Kauai be like without feral chickens?

The success of this program is not apparent. This legislation marks a proactive approach to restoring tranquility and health to areas plagued by feral chickens.

Kauai feral chicken photo credit. BOH lead photo is at Poipu Beach Park.


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43 thoughts on “Taming Kauai’s Roosters: Hawaii Enacts Law Controlling Feral Chickens”

  1. Concerning the feral chickens, how are you going to stop that feed from getting into native birds and now you’re stopping them from having eggs that will hatch.

  2. On our trips to Oahu we saw chickens everywhere except in Honolulu. They were like the pigeons & English sparrows here.

    One night we had dinner in a rustic bar in Haleiwa, dozens of them were walking around in the dining room. I ordered a chicken sandwich & I half-expected the cook to come running out of the kitchen with a hatchet & grab one, then give me the shaka sign & tell me Freshest chicken you’ve ever had, man!


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