Fitzgerald chickens gain supporters - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fitzgerald chickens gain supporters

August 8, 2004

Fitzgerald-- The chicken problem in Fitzgerald continues to ruffle feathers. A group of people say the city isn't trying hard enough to protect the wandering chickens. So now, they're starting a coalition to make sure their concerns are heard.

Jan Gelders and other bird lovers in Fitzgerald are hammering out a plan to protect hundreds of wild chickens that have run freely in the city for more than 40 years.

"We saw a need to get other components involved like downtown merchants and civic clubs,"says Gelders.

The group, called "The Coalition for the Birds," believes the Mayor's committee appointed to cool a debate about the roaming chicken population, isn't moving fast enough. Public opinion is still split, whether these birds are a nuisance or a city treasure. But retailers in the coalition say the birds are good for business.

"Most of the tourist that have called, e-mailed or just came through, just love the fact that we have these beautiful birds and want to protect them. We definitely want to continue to protect them,"says downtown retailer Susan Dunn.

The coalition says they're open to suggestions about reducing the population, but not eliminating them all together. Ronnie Passmore is one of 20 farmers volunteering to house birds on his land.

"We got rid of our buffalo. We likely wiped out our alligators, and our wolves had to be replaced. I think we need to study something before we get rid of it or wipe it off the face of the earth," says Passmore.

Now it will be up to this growing group of supporters to convince the opposition that these chickens are part of the Fitzgerald's heritage.

It's estimated there are more than 1200 wild chickens in Fitzgerald.

posted at 7:01PM by scott.hunter@walb.com