Melissa Kepler’s introduction to call ducks was at the Waupaca County Fair.
“I first saw them there a few years ago. They are very popular in England. They are part of their backyard gardens,” said the city of Weyauwega resident.
After seeing them at the fair, Kepler did a bit of research and ended up getting three of call ducks.
“I told all my neighbors. They didn’t care,” she said.
Weighing two pounds, Kepler describes them as lawn ornaments and pets.
Her family’s three call ducks were always in the backyard until one day this summer when they roamed into the front yard.
“Someone who happened to have knowledge of the ordinance drove past, saw them and contacted the police,” Kepler said.
The ordinance she is referring to is one that does not allow city residents to have poultry.
To Kepler’s family, the three call ducks are pets.
“But, because they are poultry, they are not allowed,” she said.
The call ducks have since been relocated to the home of Kepler’s in-laws in Portage County.
And, Kepler has been working to find out if residents are interested in getting the ordinance changed.
“I have bombarded the board with so much information,” she said.
While Kepler’s family has call ducks, much of the discussion at the city level has been about chickens.
She said she would love to own chickens. Her neighbors would, too.
Those interested in seeing a change to the community’s ordinance have formed a group called Wega Backyard Poultry.
The group is hosting an Urban Chicken Seminar at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, in the lower level of the Weyauwega Public Library.
Urban chickens have been a topic in numerous communities.
“What I found interesting,” Kepler said, “is the bigger the city, the less restrictive.”
One area community that allows its residents to have chickens is the city of Waupaca.
When Kepler contacted Mayor Brian Smith to find out if the decision to allows residents to have chickens has cost the city any additional money or resulted in an increase in complaints, she learned two things.
“His response,” Kepler said, “was there has been no increase in costs to the city and a decrease in the number of complaints about chickens after making them legal.”
She said the biggest concerns about urban chickens include noise, odor and that allowing them will drag property values down.
Kepler said poultry are not inherently unsanitary or smelly animals and like to be clean. Like any animal, their habitat can become soiled if not properly maintained or if they are confined to too small of a space.
Wega Backyard Poultry recommends at least two square feet of space per bird and says a normal backyard flock would not produce any more waste than any other similar sized pet.
She also said that contrary to popular belief, most poultry are not loud. Since they are social animals, they like to “talk” to each other, with hens usually cackling at a volume of 20 to 40 decibels, which Kepler said is the same volume as conversational human speech.
Kepler is among those going throughout the community to talk to residents about the ordinance and to seek signatures on a petition asking for a change in that ordinance.
People may find information about raising urban chickens through the UW-Extension office, she said.
“Some larger cities actually have coop tours,” Kepler said.