Kauai Island – Where thousands of chickens run wild but no one eats

Everywhere on Kauai, wild chickens appear, from beaches, to airports, gas stations or even parking lots, golf courses, parks…

Kauai Island is home to thousands of wild chickens (also known as moa ). They roam everywhere, quickly adapting to the diverse life in this Hawaiian paradise from eating garbage or cat food, to waiting for visitors to feed or foraging like other native species.

Due to the chickens’ rich lifestyle, their relationship with humans in Kauai is also complicated and strange. On the one hand, everyone here agrees that they help reduce the number of centipedes in Hawaii, on the other hand, they are annoyed by the roosters crowing all day long, eating grass or even destroying gardens.

But why and since when did Kauai become the paradise of wild chickens? The answer is as complicated as the relationship between chickens and people on the island. Locals will tell visitors that major storms like Iwa (1982) and Iniki (1992) destroyed hundreds of chicken coops, releasing them into the wild to live freely. The data shows that the feral chickens did indeed increase in number after those storms, but this is only part of the answer.

Kauai Island - Where thousands of chickens run wild but no one eats
Wild chickens invade all over Kauai. (Photo: @activity_wholesalers/Instagram).

Polynesians are believed to have brought chickens to Hawaii at least 800 years ago , on long voyages to islands spread across the Pacific Ocean. The chickens have lived wild on the island ever since. Therefore, when domestic chickens are released and live in the wild, they not only mate with each other, but also live and breed with wild chickens.

Like many other types of poultry in Hawaii, the moa is preserved as an important part of its natural environment. In 2014, the Kauai government launched an investigation after a series of chickens were shot, at least one died from poison dart blowers.

Not everyone can distinguish domestic chickens from moa chickens and their descendants, so people often avoid harming chickens on the island. Plus, they have no natural enemies. Thanks to that, the chickens can roam everywhere and multiply to thousands on the island of Kauai.

Tourists are curious about wild chickens on the island. (Photo: YouTube)

You might think that, living on an island full of chickens, people must find a way to sneak and cook them. But no, the meat of wild chickens on the island of Kauai is notoriously tough , so much so that locals have a legend that says: “If you like to eat these chickens, prepare two pots of water. One stone-cooking pot. lava pōhaku, a pot of chicken moa. When the lava rock is soft, the chicken will be cooked.”

Wild chickens have long been an enjoyable experience for visitors to Kauai. Surely everywhere you will see chicken poop, sometimes driving on the road even bumping into chickens and waking up to the constant crowing of chickens from the early morning.

But instead of finding dozens of reasons to hate these birds, the people of Kauai learned to live in harmony with them. The huge flock of wild chickens also offers a number of benefits, such as attracting chicken -crazed tourists, and inspiring those who come up with business ideas related to them. Souvenir shops are full of chicken decorations such as fridge magnets, t-shirts, tea and coffee mugs, etc. In addition, many other people from other regions come to Kauai to live and do business because they like chickens. .

Kauai Island - Where thousands of chickens run wild but no one eats
Visitors are also comfortable when they see wild chickens roaming around. (Photo: New York Times).

One of the concerns of the people on the island is the health of the chickens, if not their lives are affected. In 2015, a series of wild chickens suddenly died, giving off a stench. To find the cause, authorities had to transfer the chicken carcass to the Department of Agriculture office in Oahu, Hawaii’s third largest island. Before that, in 2007 an infectious disease also killed dozens of chickens.