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updated: 9/21/2017 5:26 PM

Effort to allow backyard chickens in Des Plaines dies

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  • BRIAN HILL/bhill@dailyherald.comAn effort to let Des Plaines residents raise backyard chickens, a trend in the suburbs and across the country, was voted down by aldermen Monday.

    BRIAN HILL/bhill@dailyherald.comAn effort to let Des Plaines residents raise backyard chickens, a trend in the suburbs and across the country, was voted down by aldermen Monday.

 
 

A languishing effort to let Des Plaines residents raise backyard chickens has ended.

A couple of factors may have played a role in ending the weekslong debate: a national news report about the risks of salmonella while raising fowl, and a local man accused of using a hunting bow to kill a hawk that attacked his illegally-owned hens.

"Essentially, what you're going to be doing is asking us to vote for an ordinance where someone could get sick or injured or even die," 6th Ward Alderman Malcolm Chester told supporters before voting against the proposal. "That's a very tough thing for aldermen to do."

Mayor Matt Bogusz had introduced a three-year test program to allow residents to raise chickens in the city limits, after a failed proposal by 3rd Ward Alderman Denise Rodd to permanently allow the practice. For weeks, the city council delayed action until a 6-1 vote Monday against the measure.

Dissenting aldermen cited an NBC Nightly News story that warned about the risks of spreading salmonella when raising fowl in an urban setting.

Rodd argued a salmonella outbreak caused by backyard chickens hadn't occurred in Chicago, where residents can raise fowl, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has tips for preventing risks.

Although the proposal was never greeted warmly by aldermen, word of the arrest of a Des Plaines man didn't help. Several weeks ago, officers responded to complaints of a man who used an air-powered bow to shoot a hawk, which had been attacking his backyard chickens, Police Chief Bill Kushner said. The hawk was later euthanized, he said.

The police department called the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to investigate the shooting, and the man has been charged with a felony in connection to the hawk's death, Kushner said.

A spokesman for the state agency was unable to provide details of the arrest Thursday.

Raising backyard chickens for eggs has been growing in popularity as people want to eat healthy and practice sustainability. Other suburbs allowing backyard chickens are Oak Park, Elgin, West Dundee, Deerfield, Evanston, Brookfield and Western Springs.

This isn't the first time Des Plaines considered allowing backyard chickens. The effort failed to gain support a few years ago, but the city council passed an ordinance in 2014 allowing them on a limited basis.

The ordinance -- created to let the Historic Methodist Campground sponsor a 4-H program -- permits up to six chickens on a property of 15 acres that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Des Plaines resident Nada Hana, who gathered hundreds of signatures in support of allowing chickens, told aldermen she would be back when a new city council is seated in a couple of years.

"To me, it's just disappointing, and I'll be back in 2019," she said.

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