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Bird Town

You know, a town where they fine you for having backyard chickens and ducks.




Wales and Rogers are fighting those fines. I don't blame them. According to a report at NorthCentralPA.com, the couple say they were willing to find a new home for their ducks and chickens. But reports also say West and another councilor urged them to rezone their property so that the council could take action on backyard livestock. So Wales and Rogers say they did just that. 

"However, the council then failed to pass a vote allowing birds in rural residential," the report indicates.

People choose to raise chickens in their backyard, as I explain in my book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable, to provide themselves not just with fresh eggs but also with free fertilizer and pest control. And Wellsboro, quaint and rural, seems like exactly the sort of place one might encounter owners of backyard chickens and ducks.

In fact, just last year the Audubon Society designated Wellsboro as "a Bird Town." Audubon Bird Towns, the group says, are so designated because they demonstrate "a healthy, more sustainable environment for birds and people." Ironically, the group presented the Bird Town designation to none other than Craig West, the same borough president who seems intent on making Wellsboro a bird-free town.

Conflicts that center on raising small animals for food in one's backyard aren't new. In a 2016 op-ed in the Des Moines Register, for example, I highlighted the plight of Clare Heinrich, an Iowa high schooler whose backyard beehives—which Heinrich used to produce honey that had won three blue ribbons at the Iowa State Fair—had run afoul of local law in Urbandale, Iowa, that deemed honey bees illegal livestock. The city ordered Heinrich to remove the hives or face thousands of dollars in fines.



We have chickens and I've thought about bees but have neighbors whose son is extremely allergic to them. They object to the idea, so I haven't done it. Like my other neighbors, they appreciate free fresh eggs when we have extras. I'm glad to live in an area where this is OK. Also, .22.

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