Hawaii’s Feral Chickens May Disappear Due To Fowl Play

by SharonKurheg

If a bill successfully goes through Hawaii’s government, the state’s feral chicken population may soon see its last days.

If you’ve been to the Aloha State in the past 30 or 40 years, you may have noticed (and, I mean, how could you NOT?) a whole lot of feral chickens and roosters running around the islands.

a rooster walking on grass

PC: chumlee10 / flickr

There’s enough of them that there was even a feral chicken named Hei Hei in the Moana Disney animated feature.

a cartoon rooster on a dock

PC: The Walt Disney Company

Were chickens always on the Hawaiian islands?


About 800 years ago, Polynesians crossed the ocean in outriggers to find and colonize the Hawaiian islands. They brought along chickens (specifically the red junglefowl breed) in those big canoes, and on top of having no natural predators on the islands (save for cats and dogs), the birds thrived in Hawaii’s comfortable climate (as do the rest of us. Ahhhhh!!!).

The chicken population has been around ever since, but apparently wasn’t too much of a problem until the hurricanes of 1982 (Iwa) and 1992 (Iniki). It’s said the two storms destroyed many Hawaiian residents’ chicken coops, which allowed the fowl to roam into the jungles. These domesticated birds then mated with the wild red junglefowl (the descendants of those brought to the islands by the Polynesian), which resulted in the modern-day overwhelming feral chicken population, especially on Kauai.

Like the chickens of Key West, many tourists love the birds, but residents? Generally not so much. Feral chickens dig up plants. They poop EVERYWHERE. And although they do eat bugs, they’ll also grab a cracker from a toddler’s hand if the kid isn’t careful. Oh, and if you value your sleep? Roosters crow, not only at sunrise, but at any time of day (or night!).

The city of Honolulu has had its own chicken management program since 2016. It includes specific instructions of how to capture and euthanize the birds if they’re roaming around residents’ homes. But the rest of the state? Too bad, so sad.

Well, until now.

There was supposed to be a five-year pilot program that was initially intended only for Pearl City (that’s a small community – about 45K – on the North Shore of Pearl Harbor). But lawmakers are now proposing it become a state-wide since the chickens are considered “a road and health hazard.”

The program would deploy a special bird feed that includes a chemical contraceptive (yay, science!). The product is called OvoControl, and is a contraceptive for avian populations. The feed has been used previously on pigeons.

The idea has been made into a bill that’s moving its way through the state’s legislature.

The cost of the program hasn’t been determined yet. Another potential road bump is that the state department of agriculture must get approval from the EPA to administer the product to chickens, according to the bill’s latest amendment.

But if it passes, Hawaii’s feral chicken population may go the way of the dodo.

Feature Photo: imgur via Reddit (OP unknown/deleted)

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John B March 9, 2022 - 2:54 pm

Got em here too. But not as bad. Check “Neutral Ground News” on Instagram for a story of a rooster who lives, ironically, under the Popeye’s drivethrough ordering kiosk and is routinely scene unapologetically walking in front of the store and even pecking at the front door to try and get in! Theyre certainly bold.

SharonKurheg March 9, 2022 - 3:00 pm

Ha! Where is “here?” And nah, they’re not bold…just stupid 😉

xyeahtony March 10, 2022 - 12:22 am

leave those poor chickens alone haha

Cody April 29, 2022 - 11:09 pm

So they aren’t actually a problem to anyone except the white people who moved here. Ok got it. They are trying to erase native culture because it’s inconvenient to colonization

SharonKurheg April 29, 2022 - 11:18 pm

The chickens aren’t native to Hawaii, so it has nothing to do with native culture. And just like the rest of the United States, Hawaii is a melting pot; white people are part of the state’s rainbow of cultures as much as those whose heritage is from Polynesia, China, Portugal, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, etc.

Janina September 18, 2022 - 12:49 am

I agree with the comment it’s only a problem mostly to white people which makes me wonder why they even moved here in the first place knowing the conditions (or at least they should’ve done their research before moving here). Then again, you don’t like them, you can always move back where you came from.

SharonKurheg September 18, 2022 - 8:50 am

Maybe they were willing to live there despite the chickens. Or perhaps the chickens are more of a problem now than they were when they moved there. Or since the chickens aren’t native, certainly aren’t helping anyone except souvenir sellers, and are doing more harm than good, maybe it’d be a good idea to get rid of them, no? “Move back where you came from” is uncalled for.

John September 4, 2023 - 6:23 pm

People aren’t any more native than the chickens and have much greater impact. But that’s just an observation. There is a problem with contraceptives distributed for chickens affecting native birds, so that may not solve the problem identified here. If only the chickens would eat the coquis. Now that’s an invasive species I could live without!


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