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Hens allowed on Pierre land under ordinance offer

PIERRE (AP) — Residents of South Dakota's capital city would be able to keep up to six hens on their property, but no roosters, under a proposed chicken ordinance that Pierre city leaders will consider later this month.

A group called Pierre Urban Chicken Reform has proposed that residents be allowed to keep up to six hens as long as certain requirements are met regarding such issues as coop placement and licensing. The City Commission has scheduled an April 15 hearing.

The citizen group has submitted a petition in favor of the ordinance. It was signed by 169 people, 151 of whom live, work or own property in the city. Proponents say they want to be able to harvest eggs and teach their children about raising food.

City Commissioner Jim Mehlhaff said he has heard concerns about possible noise, smell and enforcement issues. Some opponents also worry chickens might attract predators.

The citizen group planned to push an ordinance last year but postponed the effort after concerns were raised about the idea. Organizer Anne Lewis said the group has worked to address those concerns in the new proposal.

The issue of backyard chickens has arisen in other South Dakota cities recently. The Sioux Falls City Council a year ago voted to allow residents to keep up to six hens — but not roosters, which crow. A group of chicken advocates in Rapid City plans a second attempt at legalizing the bird within city limits there, after a failed attempt last summer.