Hundreds sign petition to ‘save’ Tarka Trail chickens

Louie Brownsell with two of the hens he has rescued.
Louie Brownsell with two of the hens he has rescued.

Hundreds of people have signed a petition to keep a brood of rescue chickens on the Tarka Trail at Bideford.

Louie Brownsell rescued the 14 ex-battery hens through the British Hen Welfare Trust in 2015, and they have been a fond attraction for visitors ever since.

He contacted Devon County Council at the time to ask who owned the land, which was then full of brambles.

“Devon County Council said they didn’t own it; Torridge said they didn’t own it; so I thought if nobody owns it I’m going to clear it,” said Louie.

One of Louie's rescue chickens on the Tarka Trail. Picture: YellowBunny.Media One of Louie's rescue chickens on the Tarka Trail. Picture: YellowBunny.Media

“There were really high brambles and we were always handing plasters out to kids who cut themselves but the chickens completely cleared them.

“People love the chickens, they are so friendly and even the local schools come down to see them.”

But last month Louie received a letter from DCC, telling him he has 28 days to remove the chicken run and all chickens from the site.

A passerby signs the petition to save the Tarka Hens. Picture: YellowBunny.Media A passerby signs the petition to save the Tarka Hens. Picture: YellowBunny.Media

Louie said: “I’ve asked the county council if I can buy the land, people have even offered me money to be able to buy it to keep the chickens there.

“The Tarka Trail warden came down and put cones round the chicken run and they’ve told me it’s a health and safety risk.

“But the chickens are so good natured, they love being petted and people love to see them.”

One of Louie's rescue chickens on the Tarka Trail. Picture: YellowBunny.Media One of Louie's rescue chickens on the Tarka Trail. Picture: YellowBunny.Media

Louie has put up a paper petition next to the hens, and has also started an online petition.

A Devon County Council spokesman said: “The owners of the chickens have been asked to vacate the land because it is being occupied illegally and they are trespassing.

“They were previously offered a garden licence, to use the land as an allotment without chickens, but they turned this down.

“A movable chicken pen is also being placed on the Tarka Trail verge without permission.

“The county council does not permit livestock to be housed on county council property, other than our farms estate.

“The county council also considers that the locating of a pen upon the Tarka Trail has the potential to cause an obstruction and therefore presents a health and safety risk for trail users.”

You can follow the progress of Louie’s campaign on the Tarka Chickens Facebook page, and sign the petition at thepetitionsite.com/820/832/943/keep-our-rescue-hens-on-the-tarka-trail/


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