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Acalanes Garden Club Expresses Concern Over Chicken Coop Break-Ins

By Brendan Connelly, Online News Editor

// Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Acalanes High School’s Garden Club cared for the chickens at Acalanes. However, after the return to hybrid instruction, the chicken coop has been broken into three times. 

   The chicken coop in the Acalanes garden was broken into twice this past month over Spring Break and on April 11, leaving eggs missing and the chickens disturbed. 

   Acalanes purchased the chickens approximately two years ago, and various clubs took on the role of taking care of them. Most recently, the Garden Club, led by senior Kirstein Meade, took on this role. 

   “When we had the pandemic, [Meade] and a couple of other people just decided to take care of the chickens. So, in August, when we started school again, it was part of the Garden Club,” English teacher and Garden Club advisor Heller Stanton said. 

   The Garden Club takes care of the chickens in shifts every day. 

   “We just rotate off days. Usually, someone’s there every day, and we just go in, feed them, and water them. And once a week, we just [clean out] out the coop. It’s not that much work,” Meade said. 

Since the return to hybrid learning, there have been three instances of break-ins. During each of these break-ins, someone entered the general chicken pen and forcibly broke into the nesting area. The perpetrators stole eggs and disturbed the chickens during the break-in over Spring Break. 

   “[The chickens] used to be really friendly because they were hand-raised, and now they don’t trust people so much. We think [the perpetrators] might have been able to grab one of them since one of our hens was completely covered in yoke, but [the chickens] don’t usually go after the eggs,” Meade said. 

   In addition to abusing the chickens and stealing eggs, the intruders damaged parts of the nesting box. Because the fence around the chicken coop is not complete and leaves the area exposed, this damage sparks concerns. 

  “The fact is, we have a bunch of foxes and raccoons, and we really have a rat problem at our school. And any one of those things could get in and either cause diseases to our chickens or kill one of them, which is what we’re worried about,” Meade said.

   While one chicken was covered in yoke after one break-in, none of the chickens were hurt. 

   “I’m really just glad that they didn’t hurt any of the chickens because that’s my primary concern. And that’s the first thing I think of [when] someone’s breaking into the chicken coop: ‘Are all the chickens there. Are they all okay?’” Garden Club member and senior Chloe Starczewski said. 

   Nevertheless, the recent break-ins remain concerning. Because the coop is on the edge of the school, behind the track field, there are no video cameras that have a clear view. The Garden Club plans to increase security and prevent future break-ins. 

   “We are just trying to figure out how to keep them safe. Do we get cameras? Do we move the chicken coop? Maybe we have to look at that,” Stanton said.

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