We’ll Be Brawk… (“>


For those who haven’t heard, November 21st 2011 the Billings City Council and Mayor arbitrarily and capriciously decided to ignore the hundreds of citizens who have signed petitions, written letters, shown up in support and asked them to consider urban hens for Billings. Amazing. Based on the idea that POSSIBLY there might be some BAD HEN OWNERS out there who might not keep their coops clean or their little urban food sources on feet cooped up during the night (and therefore bringing in hordes of wildlife including bears, badgers, and mice), they decided to throw us all out the window. After all, there is a remote possibility that Animal Control might get called once a month to take care of some chicken-related issue. The fact that urban hens have quietly existed in Billings for decades (without Animal Control’s constant involvement) just doesn’t count I guess.

Gosh. There are quite a few people who drive drunk too, or speed, or run red lights. We’d better take EVERYONE’S cars away… Billings residents cannot be trusted to act like adults!

Dog owners, beware. The Council has lumped hen owners and potential hen owners in with all of you who let your pooch bark all day and fail to clean up their (ahem) non-compostable waste products from the backyard. Hug your canines folks, the Council might just decide to take them away too. You’ve obviously proven you cannot be responsible.

OK all our sarcasm and wee bit of bitterness aside, this is just bad politics. Anybody see the Billings Gazette poll that asked readers how many chickens should be allowed in urban backyards in city limits, from 0 up to 12? Last I saw before it closed and they took it down, seems like it was well under 40% nay and well over 60% 3-12 hens per residence. I’ve not seen any petitions out there against chickens, but we have several hundred names of Billings residents who are FOR them.

Does this need to be a voter issue? The Billings Backyard Hen Initiative has, from our inception, tried to be logical, reasonable, factual, and respectful in our efforts to discuss this issue with the city. We’ve taken the high road in every way we knew how. We spent thousands of hours researching myths and concerns, emailing and calling other cities to find out their issues, talking with residents, meeting with neighborhood groups, and supporting this issue. We’ve taken it upon ourselves as average citizens to implement (Magic City Hens) chicken relocation and compost relocation programs as well as offer classes in urban hen-keeping. Obviously our City Council and Mayor do not appreciate or even consider any of that in the slightest, as evidenced by the wise cracks made behind our backs after we left the Council meeting on Monday night.  

“Table the issue” all you like, Billings City Council. We are not a dozen people, we are several hundred people, and we will become several thousand people in support of this issue. We vote, we care about our city, we are responsible and trustworthy citizens. Your denigration of our potential caregiving capabilities is ridiculous and not acceptable. Sorry guys, but we will be back. And back, and back, and back, and voting, and working, until we have a City Council and Mayor who care enough about Billings to put their vote where their mouth is in regards to local, sustainable, healthy eating and the rights of our citizens to provide those with quiet, clean, and non-obtrusive birds (gallus domesticus – the common chicken) eating kitchen and garden scraps and laying daily eggs. It’s 2011, almost 2012. Can we join the rest of the nation in this aspect of healthy lifestyles??



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cynthia on November 26, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Well said! I couldn’t believe that outcome. Honestly, we, in Billings, ARE behind the times in this sad example thanks to our REPRESENTATION. Keep this all in mind, folks, when you have a chance to voice your opinion on our council members…


  2. What a well written review of the city council’s vote to table the Billings Backyard Hen Initiative. “Arbitrary” and “capricious” are a good take on their action. Unprofessional, disrespectful and short sighted also come to mind, when balanced with all the research effort invested to make this a viable initiative to implement. A November 30th Gazette article on school food pantries reported that 40.5% of SD2 students qualified for free or reduced cost lunches last year. There are hungry families and hungry children in Billings. Backyard hens are a low cost sustainable food source.


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