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Key West chicken catcher begins his work

By Associated Press
Published February 8, 2004

KEY WEST - This tiny island's renegade chickens may have met their match.

Barber Armando Parra, 63, a third-generation Key West resident, has begun setting traps for the nuisance fowl after being hired by the city as its official chicken catcher.

The position was created following complaints from disgruntled residents who said the chicken population, descendants from hens and roosters bred generations ago for cockfights, was too noisy and growing too fast.

An amateur ornithologist, Parra has an extensive library of bird books and has been raising chickens since age 8.

"You don't have to go to Harvard to catch a chicken, but you've got to know about them," Parra said Saturday.

Assistant city manager John Jones said Parra is to be paid $20 per captured rooster or hen up to a maximum of $18,000. Newly hatched chicks don't count in the financial tally.

Jones said Parra is using the city's traps until he finishes building his own.

The chickens will be held in a temporary coop at a park until an Opa-locka man comes to pick them up for his 400-acre Miami-Dade County farm.

Jones said he hopes Parra will trap about half of the city's estimated 2,000 birds, in compliance with the city's goal of controlling, but not eradicating, the population.

[Last modified February 8, 2004, 01:45:41]

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