KAILUA-KONA — On any given day, people walking into the Hawaii Police station on Hale Makai Place are greeted by roosters and strutting chickens.
Police say the population has grown to at least 50 chickens and has been an increasing problem for the past two years. However, officers and staff at the Kealakehe station have been working on a plan to reclaim their property and remove the birds as their presence has become annoying.
Sgt. Roylen Valera with community policing said the chickens are a nuisance and — aside from being messy — they are a health hazard outside the station.
“They actually fly up on people’s cars and scratch cars,” Valera said. “And if that isn’t enough, they lay eggs on the cars.”
People walking up to the police department take a zigzag path to avoid chicken feces.
While it can start to smell like a chicken coop walking to the front door of the police station, staff does what they can to minimize the mess by spraying the walkway down and shooing the chickens from the path in the mornings.
Officers have also been finding ways to evict the birds from the property.
About a month ago, Valera said he reached out to the Hawaii Island Humane Society, which is across the street from the station, to inquire about traps. At the time, he was told there were none available. When one did become available, he was informed he could use it for a fee.
Valera said officers put their own trap out about a week ago and in that time they’ve caught about three unintentionally.
Valera said officers aren’t outside actively attempting to round them up and the extra duty isn’t preventing officers from their full-time jobs, protecting and serving the public.
“It’s not like we’re doing surveillance,” he said. “Because it’s not a priority, it is what it is at this point.”
Donna Whitaker, humane society executive director, confirmed police contacted the Kona shelter manager about the feral chickens at the station.
A deposit for a trap is $75. Since traps are expensive, the humane society takes a deposit with some assurance that it will be returned.
Once the trap is brought back, the money is refunded. Whitaker said the deposit is never cashed.
Whitaker thinks the increase of chickens has something to do with people coming to Hale Makai Place and dropping them off. She also suspects chicks hatching.
Whitaker suggests those with a chicken problem come get traps. Once the chickens are caught, bring them back to the shelter.
“We can adopt them out, that’s the most humane way,” she said.
Police say there is also a problem with feral cats hanging around the station.
Maj. Robert Wagner said there are chicken and cat feces everywhere.
“Cats favorite spot to use the bathroom is more on the left side of the station by the flag pole,” Wagner said. “All that gravel is like their litter box.”
Police think the regular feeding of the feral cats by an Advocats volunteer in the evenings has a direct correlation with the numbers of the chicken population. However, the volunteer would disagree.
Liz Swan has been feeding the feral cat colony on Hale Makai Street for 28 years. She said what most people don’t understand is the Advocats aren’t just out there to feed the cats. The nonprofit is out there to trap, neuter and release to keep the population of cats down.
The feeding and watering of cats also allows volunteers to check the general health of the animals and see if there are any new additions to the group.
Swan said the number of cats on Hale Makai Place can fluctuate because it is also a dumping ground for felines. However, she believes the colony size has remained fairly consistent.
She did agree the chicken population has boomed, but not because of the feeding.
“We don’t see baby chicks here,” Swan said. “The reason they’re all adults is because people dump them.”
Swan said there are other solutions to things and suggests that the humane society and police department work together to find a way to reduce the chicken population on Hale Makai Place.
The nightly feeding not only draws chickens and cats. It also brings out pigs and at times goats.