Key West wants to ban people from feeding roaming chickens

This Sept. 13, 2017 photo shows chickens in Key West, Fla. Key West is considering a law that would make it illegal to feed the chickens that freely roam the Southernmost City. City leaders are hoping an ordinance approved unanimously on a first reading Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 will help. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
This Sept. 13, 2017 photo shows chickens in Key West, Fla. Key West is considering a law that would make it illegal to feed the chickens that freely roam the Southernmost City. City leaders are hoping an ordinance approved unanimously on a first reading Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 will help. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Feral chickens run free in Key West, just one of those things that keep the Southernmost City charmingly weird.

But what's delightful here and there becomes a nuisance when they're everywhere. With the population getting out of hand, city commissioners are taking action — not by hunting down the fixings for a massive tailgate party, but by going after their human enablers.

They're making it illegal to feed the free-roaming birds.

An ordinance unanimously approved on a first reading Wednesday said the Florida city's feral chickens can “carry and spread diseases, destroy property, and cause copious amounts of fecal deposits on public property.”

People who feed them would be punished with fines of $250 per day for a first violation and $500 per day for repeat offenders under the ordinance, which now awaits a second vote, the Miami Herald reported.

These chickens are fat, with little trouble finding meals. Tourists feed them popcorn or french fries, and some locals buy huge bags of bird feed for them.

“The fowl have a feast,” said City Commissioner Clayton Lopez, who sponsored the measure. “They can pick and choose better than we can what they eat off their plate.”

Patricia Eables, an assistant Monroe County attorney, said her neighbor feeds them several times a day, resulting in droppings on the stairs, handrails, cars and other surfaces, the Herald reported.