Clovis woman fighting for chicken rights

Clovis woman fighting for chicken rights

Clovis, NM - Mary-Beth Bouchard never thought she would have a big issue over her chickens. For more than a decade, she's kept chickens in her yard without an issue. Now she is going to court over them.

A week ago a city employee came up to Bouchard's home and said she wasn't allowed to have chickens on her property.

"They've always been here, they're not a problem," said Bouchard.

She was charged with seven counts of violating a city ordinance regarding poultry location restrictions.

The ordinance state: "No person shall keep poultry within 100 feet of any residence or business establishment, expect for the residence or business establishment of a person owning or controlling the poultry."

Bouchard says the language in this ordinance is hard for her to understand. The city's Animal Control says the ordinance has been in place since the 1950's and the city is working to better define where people can have chickens. Animal Control says you are only allowed to have chickens East of town near the stock yard and fair grounds.

In the meantime, the city offered Bouchard an agreement that would allow her to keep her chickens but only for three years. In this agreement she cannot add any more chickens. If a chicken dies, she cannot replace it. The rules also say that if the city receives a complaint, Bouchard must get rid of her pets, including her dogs. The compromise still needs to be approved by city commission, but Bouchard says she will not compromise with this agreement.

"She has not shown willingness to sign or negotiate any variance. So, at this point we don't have a resolution," said Clovis City Manager Larry Fry.

Bouchard says what the city is doing has been stressful on her.

"They don't care that I am going to trail for this," said Bouchard.

Bouchard is set to appear on the 18th in Municipal Court. She says if she is not allowed to keep her chickens permanently, she plans to make this a federal case.