DADE CITY — The days of wild chickens running free in the streets, merrily squawking and clawing about, are officially over.
The City Commission gave final approval Tuesday evening to an amendment to the city's bird sanctuary ordinance, officially making the free-roaming fowl outlaws.
With a nod to a growing trend in "backyard food production," though, the commission also approved an ordinance allowing residents to keep up to six hens confined on their property. There are conditions:
• No chickens in multi-family complexes, including duplexes.
• The fowl must be secured at all times in enclosures that are at least 20 feet from any neighboring homes.
• Birds must be well cared for and their coops cleaned regularly — there should be no offensive odors sniffed out at property lines.
• No slaughtering the chickens; backyard food production refers to eggs.
• Under no circumstances are the hens to entertain male visitors; roosters are strictly prohibited.
The measures started taking shape earlier this year, when complaints about the free-roaming chickens began piling up. There wasn't anything city officials could do about it, though, because the bird sanctuary designation made it illegal to harm, trap or hunt birds in the city limits — including poultry.
Removing chickens from the bird sanctuary ordinance will allow the city to trap nuisance fowl, if needed.