Chicken run: Edmonton bylaw officers capture escaped hen

A “chicken at large” captured on the lam in north Edmonton has returned home to roost.

'They zig and they zag and they run pretty fast. It really takes some skill'

This hen, on the loose in north Edmonton last week. has since returned home to its owners. (Edmonton Animal Control )

A "chicken at large" captured on the lam in north Edmonton has returned home to roost.

The hen was spotted crossing the roads of the Alberta Avenue neighbourhood on Thursday before it was apprehended by animal control officers near the corner of 118th Avenue and 86th Street.

Trying to net the bird was no easy task for his team, said animal control officer Sgt. James Johnson.

"I don't know what to compare it to, a greased pig?" said Johnson, who has captured his share of escaped chickens during his time with the city.  

According to Johnson, just like Mighty Mick professes in a famous scene from Rocky II, if you can catch a chicken, you can catch greased lighting.

"If anyone is a fan of the Rocky movie, they will have seen Rocky, as part of his training, trying to chase a chicken," Johnson said.

"They zig and they zag and they run pretty fast. It really takes some skill."  

Believe it or not, Johnson says the sight of a ruffled hen strutting about on the street is not all that rare in Edmonton. Four or five errant chickens are reported to the city every year.

"Chickens happen periodically. I wouldn't say it's an all-the-time thing but it does happen from time to time."

'They can easily escape'

There are more than 50 regulated chicken coops in Edmonton. In late 2014, the city of Edmonton began hatching a plan for an Urban Hen Keeping pilot project. After a trial run, the program was extended and expanded in March of this year.

The program has strict guidelines on animal care and maintenance. It has rules intended to keep smells and sounds in check and to discourage birds from flying the coop.

Even so, Johnson says the fowl are surprisingly sneaky.

"They run pretty fast," said Johnson.

"So if they let it out because it was a nice day, and it either got spooked or decided to go exploring, they can easily escape."

The hen captured last week spent a few days at the animal care and control centre, among hundreds of stray cats, dogs and even a pigeon, before it was claimed by its owners.

"It looks to be in pretty good shape so I don't think it's been at large or running around on its own for a very long time," Johnson said. 

"It looked to be pretty healthy. Its feathers weren't ruffled."

With files from Ariel Fournier