Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Emerging pattern in urban chicken exposés

I was reading the online report Council bawks at chickens-in-city decision by reporter Jerome Christenson of the Winona Daily News this morning (warning, Jerome's pretty punny throughout, starting at the title), and I'm recognizing a patter to these kinds of stories.

It seems the goings-on in Winona are playing out to this familiar pattern seen as urban chickens become more prevalent:
  • (typically anonymous) concerned citizen alerts council person to existence of poultry in urban area
  • (now) concerned council person over-reacts and moves to ban all chickens from city limits
  • cooler heads prevail and the matter's referred to committee
  • advocates and dissenters line up on either side of the issue and sing their usual tunes of "in moderation, it's good" v "dirty, smelly creatures must be banished to rural farms"
  • press gets wind of the matter and highlights eccentric outlying cases as being central to the matter
  • add a little Google juice so word spreads through blogs
  • stay tuned to find out if chickens get the boot!
Lather, rinse, insert name of new town, repeat

In the Winona article, I was more than a little amused to see the following bit of aged evidence submitted for consideration:
Councilman Al Thurley pointed out that historically, keeping chickens did result in increased problems for law enforcement, citing a 1901 report in the Winona Republican Herald on chicken thieves operating in the city.
Looking at the data on Winona County (provided by, the population of 49,276 (65% urban, 35% rural) appears to be predominantly white (95.1%) and young (32.8 years) in a county where the median household income is $42,737 and the median home value is $161,000.

While I can't find turn-of-the-last century data on the county, I certainly hope things have changed in Winona in the last 107 years such that chicken thieves won't be quite the public menace anymore.


ponylass said...

Just thought you'd like to know... On 7/7/08 the Winona city coucil approved an ordinance to allow up to 12 chickens per residence (no roosters) in Winona city limits, providing you don't eat them or let them live in your house. The news story can be found by searching "chickens" on I'm going to start getting my back yard ready...

Unknown said...

That's fantastic news! Thanks so much for updating us on the story in Winona.


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