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Ruffling feathers: Chicken owners upset over possible ban on farm animals in Columbus

Posted at 5:24 PM, Jul 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-05 22:49:44-04

COLUMBUS, Ind. – The Columbus City Council voted Tuesday night to table a controversial ban on backyard animals until October.

A number of animals are included in the ban, including chickens, causing some to cry "fowl" at the city council.

Over the last few years it’s been a fast-growing trend: Keeping chickens in your backyard, even if you live in a neighborhood.

That applies to Columbus resident Stephanie Strothmann, who has a coop in her backyard where she’s raised her chickens.

“People – these days – want to be connected to the land,” Strothmann said. “They want to know where their food comes from, and with chickens, it seems to be a win-win situation. They catch bugs, and then of course their ‘leave behinds’ – you can compost that. We’re just asking not to ban them – we’re asking if they must, let’s regulate them.”

But members of the Columbus city council – including Councilor Frank Miller – say chickens and other farm animals do not belong within city limits.

Miller says they can be loud, they give off a smell and he has concerns over disease.

He says the vote to move farm animals outside city limits is one that many people – including neighbors of chicken owners – support.

On the other side of the coin, supporters of city chickens and farm animals are pushing a petition to fight the ban. So far nearly 500 people have signed.

“To look back in the backyard and not be able to see them – that’s definitely something that’s going to be hard to take,” Strothmann said.

She believes those who are fighting against farm animals within city limits simply fear what they don’t understand.

“I think it’s a fear. I think they’re afraid of something being different – a change,” Strothmann said. “And any time you make a change, there is fear and pushback. It’s up to us to educate people.”

If the ban passes, all animals labeled as farm animals will be immediately disallowed from city limits. That includes goats, cows, horses and of course chickens.

But, Columbus will likely give homeowners as 90-day window to clear out backyards of the farm animals.