Chicken bandits strike Childrens Garden twice in one week

Chicken bandits strike Children’s Garden twice in one week

In the dark of the night last week, a thief or thieves were at work in the JD Rivers’ Children’s Garden in Theodore Wirth Park.

Whomever it was hopped a fence, cut several wires and broke through plywood. The mission? Stealing chickens, two per night for two nights.

The four victims — Chicken Pie, Henny Penny and Thelma and Louise — were named by the hundreds of kids who take part in various youth programs at the garden, an outdoor classroom for horticulture.

“The kids love them. That’s their all-time favorite thing at the garden,” said MaryLynn Pulscher, who manages environmental education programs for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. “They help feed them. They help clean the cages. They escort them every day back and forth from the coop and walk them over to the orchard so that they can get their job done.”

The chickens purpose is to pick bugs from the orchard. No longer. After losing four of the chickens to thieves, Pulscher gave the fifth and final one back to the farmer who donated to the program, saving it from the grip of the midnight chicken bandits.

The Children’s Garden filed a police report, although Pulscher doesn’t expect the Police Department to spend much time on finding the chickens.

Here’s how Pulscher believes events unfolded:

On Wednesday night, the chicken thieves jumped an eight-foot chain-link fence into the chicken coop area. Then they used wire cutters to open up a ventilation area on the wooden coop, yanking two of the chickens.

The next day park staff realized what happened and boarded up the opening with plywood. But the thieves struck again that night, hopping the fence, breaking through the plywood and stealing two more chickens.

Staff filed a police report the next day.

Pulscher said she believes the culprits wanted the chickens for pets because they also took a water dish. She said chickens are becoming popular pets in the city because residents can get permits to have them in their yards.

While someone may have a new pet, Pulscher said hundreds of youngsters have lost theirs. The chickens were old and friendly and could be picked up by the kids.

“These were like the best chickens we ever had. They were so friendly,” Pulscher said. “We do evaluations at the end of they year with the kids and their favorite thing is chickens.”

Pulscher said the garden will be without chickens at least until next year.

“Maybe next year we’ll have enough funding for a beefier chicken coop,” she said.