Support grows for backyard chickens in Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City residents recently have been lobbying the city council to draft and pass an ordinance allowing chickens in residential backyards. Some council members have voiced support for at least a trial program.
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Tulsa also allows chickens, said Steve Harris with the city's Animal Welfare division. He said he thinks chickens could work for Oklahoma City, too, as long as people made prudent decisions and the public was well-educated about the rules.
Leave it to neighborhoods?
The local chapter of the Sierra Club, a prominent environmental group, supports backyard chickens, said Stephanie Jordan, the chapter's agricultural issues chairwoman.
“We've found that getting people in farmers markets, getting them to grow their own food or getting them to know the people growing their food, it gets them to think differently not only about their food, but about the rest of their behavior,” she said.
Ultimately, some supporters think the decision should be left up to those it will affect the most: Neighbors. They say the city should legalize chickens and let city residents decide where and how they can be kept.
“There are very strong neighborhood associations that can make rules,” Eggy and Hermione's owner said. “Why not make it legal in the whole city, and neighborhoods that have a problem with it can police themselves?”
It's not that simple, said Georgie Rasco, executive director of the Neighborhood Alliance of Central Oklahoma. Some associations can't make binding rules, and some neighborhoods don't have associations. Rasco said the alliance doesn't have an official position on chickens, but she thinks the day likely is coming when they're legalized. She thinks the best way to implement an ordinance would be to start with specific rules that protect all property owners.
“This is a very divisive issue, and it will need to have some very clear-cut guidelines,” Rasco said. “The citizens should have some input into those guidelines.”
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