Casper City Council kills chicken and bee ordinance

July 24, 2013 6:00 am  • 

The Casper City Council on Tuesday killed a proposed city law that would have legalized backyard chickens and bees.

After considering the proposed changes in city law at the request of state Rep. Bunky Loucks and a fifth-grade science group, the council opted to maintain its current restrictions.

“My neighbors and my ward, when it comes to the bees and chickens, really aren’t excited about something like that,” Mayor Kenyne Schlager said after the meeting.

Since being elected to the council in 2006, Schlager said the topic has surfaced a number of times but has never had enough support to reach the council floor.

Schlager joined councilmen Stephen Cathey, Paul Meyer, Paul Bertoglio and Craig Hedquist in opposition. Councilmen Keith Goodenough, Bob Hopkins, Charlie Powell and Daniel Sandoval voted in favor.

While Hedquist and Bertoglio doubted rules would be followed and said they would be difficult to enforce, Powell said backyard chickens and beekeepers already exist. Powell said the ordinance would create a way for current lawbreakers to practice a hobby legally.

“At least with this, there would be people who want to stay within the bounds of the law, a way for them to apply and be inspected and be legal,” he said Tuesday.

In May of 2012, the fifth-grade Sagewood Ecology Team presented research to the council about backyard chickens and concluded they were safe and could be a benefit to the community. The issue never received enough council support to move forward and was forgotten until Loucks suggested an ordinance to allow backyard beekeeping in March.

The council then considered an all-encompassing ordinance that would allow the fowl and insects. The drafted ordinance presented Tuesday would have required coops and colonies to meet city and state regulations for registration and setbacks from neighboring property. It would have also required an annual $40 permit from Metro Animal Control.

Schlager said there is always a possibility the topic could return and that new council members may reconsider the issue in the future.

“As the council evolves and we learn more about certain topics, there’s always opportunity that the council may change their mind,” she said. “Especially when elections come around.”