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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, January 10, 2002

Salt Lake roosters create crowing pains

 •  Farm animals recently in the news

By Scott Ishikawa
Advertiser Central OÎahu Writer

Roosters — Mother Nature's alarm clocks — go off around 3 or 4 a.m. most mornings in the Salt Lake area.

The Hawaiian Humane Society says it received 575 complaints about crowing roosters last year.

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And some folks say they aren't going to take it lying down anymore.

"People gotta go work the next day and they need sleep," said Grant Tanimoto, who says he regularly hears the cock-a-doodle-doos at his home on Ala Haukulu Street.

Tanimoto is chairman of the Aliamanu/Salt Lake/Foster Village Neighborhood Board that will discuss the crowing problem at its monthly meeting at 7 tonight.

"If people are going to have them as pets, they gotta keep them under control," Tanimoto said about the neighborhood problem that's gone on for about a year. "Then again, I don't know how you keep a rooster from crowing in the morning."

Roosters — commonly raised as pets, food, and illegally for cockfighting in Hawai'i — have long been a part of local culture and country ambiance. But in most neighborhoods of Honolulu proper, the birds just don't mix well with humans.

With residential development expanding into areas once considered rural or agricultural, the problem of farm animals in urban areas is becoming more acute.

The Hawaiian Humane Society have logged an average of 640 rooster noise complaints per year since 1994, said Eve Holt, the group's community relations director. (There were 575 complaints in 2001.)

 •  The Aliamanu/Salt Lake/Foster Village Neighborhood Board meets at 7 tonight at the Aliamanu Intermediate School cafeteria, 3271 Salt Lake Blvd.
"It's pretty obvious this island is becoming more crowded, so if you're raising roosters, you'll probably eventually end up with someone who doesn't like the noise," Holt said. "Very often, the calls we get over rooster noise are of fighting cocks being raised."

That's why it's no surprise that with Salt Lake — with its mix of single-family homes and low and high-rise buildings thrown in the residential mix — someone was bound to complain about the noise, Tanimoto said. (The Humane Society said there were ten rooster complaints in Salt Lake last year.)

Tanimoto said he recently received calls from residents along Pu'uku Mauka Drive about a neighbor that previously owned seven roosters, as well as complaints about another rooster owner on Likini Street.

Stephanie Okabe, who has lived in the area for 25 years, filed a complaint in September with the Humane Society after being awakened for months between two to four in the mornings by the screech-like crowings.

"It was pretty loud, like it was coming from the street above ours," said Okabe, who later discovered roosters kept at two neighborhood homes. "They're like dogs; one of the birds would start crowing, and the others would join in."

"Apparently, this person's home overlooks the Salt Lake hillside and the noise echoes downward to the rest of the neighborhood," she said. "We heard he was given a warning by the Humane Society, but the crowing is back."

Holt said Humane Society officials will be looking into the latest Salt Lake complaints.

Animal officials use two laws to help enforce the crowing problem. One ordinance limits the number of chickens per household in residential areas to two. Another animal nuisance law says the animal shall not make noise for 10 minutes continuously or 30 minutes intermittently.

The initial fine for violating the animal nuisance law is $50, with a $100 fine for a second violation within the next two years. Subsequent fines within another two years would be between $500 and $1,000, and/or between 30 days to six months' probation.

So the question remains: How do you keep a rooster from crowing in the morning?

"You can't," Holt said. "Except maybe build a sound-proof pen for them."

• • •

Farm animals recently in the news

December 1995: City Councilman Duke Bainum attempts to establish a rooster-free zone from Waikiki mauka to the Ko'olau . The measure, which would have banned male chickens five months or older, doesn't fly in the City Council.

February 1996: A Pupukea man accused of keeping noisy, crowing roosters on his property wins a reversal of convictions on three animal nuisance violations in court. The Hawai'i Intermediate Court of Appeals rules that he should have first been given warning citations and a chance to correct the problem.

April 1997: The case of the People vs. Oink. The defendant, a 160-pound Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, was allowed by District Court to stay with its owners, Terry and Susan Lohrey. The couple was acquitted of animal nuisance charges for keeping what is classified a farm animal on their Crestview property. After the verdict, defense attorney Earle Partington said: "I find this case by the prosecution a waste of the taxpayers' money. Oink's a nice pig. Just leave the pig alone."

May 2000: The La'ie Community Association offers a $1 bounty for the capture of each feral chicken roaming the community, in which the birds make excessive noise in the mornings and even spread mites to some families. But the plan goes awry when an arrangement with an animal welfare group to handle the chickens falls through. Residents from around O'ahu offer to take the chickens to raise and eat them.

Reach Scott Ishikawa at sishikawa@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2429.