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What are the laws in New Hanover County and Wilmington regarding having chickens?

Ken Little

Regulations on keeping chickens vary depending on where you live. (Contributed photo)

First it was Carolina Beach. Now it’s Wilmington and New Hanover County.

Readers want to know if it’s legal to keep chickens.

The answer may be considered fowl:

In Wilmington, “chickens are allowed inside the city limits in very limited cases,” spokeswoman Malissa Talbert said.

For domestic fowl like chickens and turkeys, “you must have 20,000 square feet of property, and the birds must be kept in a fenced-in area,” Talbert said.

The enclosure must have a minimum of 10 square feet per bird and can’t be within 25 feet of the property line or 100 feet of a residence. Property owners are allowed to keep up to 20 birds per acre, Talbert said, presumably excluding ostriches.

“The requirements are designed to keep such animals from becoming a disturbance for nearby neighbors as properties inside the city limits are generally much more dense than those outside the city limits,” she said.

In New Hanover County, “There is no regulation specifically addressing chickens in the unincorporated county,” said Kemp Burpeau, deputy county attorney.

“The towns usually regulate or prohibit poultry, as do restrictive covenants,” Burpeau said. “We could be involved in situations of cruelty to animals.”

UPDATE: The city is considering changes in its laws regarding keeping chickens. You can read about it here.

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