Council Still Deciding Whether to Revisit Chicken Ordinance

Council Still Deciding Whether to Revisit Chicken Ordinance

A group of residents gather in front of City Hall to show their support for allowing chickens within city limits. SweetwaterNOW photo by Stephanie Thompson

ROCK SPRINGS — Several residents are asking the Rock Springs City Council to change an existing ordinance to allow for residents to keep chickens within city limits.

During the Rock Springs City Council meeting last night, several residents attended the meeting to show support for allowing chickens within city limits. Some of the supporters were easy to pick out as they were wearing yellow t-shirts with the message “#savechickennugget,” while one supporter arrived in a chicken costume.

Back in 2013, the Council reviewed an ordinance that would have allowed chickens within city limits. However after going through the public comment process and three ordinance readings, the Council did not move forward with changing the language.

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Fast forward nine years, and once gain the issue is coming before the Council.

During the last Council meeting on March 1, Rock Springs resident Mackenzie Bertagnolli, who has 12 chickens, asked for the ordinance to be revisited after animal control recently showed up at her house informing her that chickens were not allowed within city limits.

At last night’s meeting, Bertagnolli not only asked the Council to revisit the issue by changing ordinance 3-527, but she provided the Councilors with a proposed ordinance she came up with on her own.

Bertagnolli, who has lived in Rock Springs for more than 40 years, said she purchased chickens in 2020 to help feed her family during the pandemic. She considers her chickens pets, enjoys their company, and believes they have helped her mental health.

She said they provide more benefits than cats or dogs because they provide pest control by eating ticks, slugs, mosquitoes, flies, and other insects. Bertagnolli said they also provide eggs that are much more nutritious than store bought.

She said the city could limit the numbers of hens allowed within city limits and require residents to provide humane care for them.

There is no legitimate reason for any city to prohibit keeping a few chickens…

~ Mackenzie Bertagnolli

She said many cities are changing their ordinances to allow for chickens, including Green River, Cheyenne,Casper, Gillette, and Rawlins.

Bertagnolli also presented the Council with an online petition at, which she said had around 650 signatures on it. She also has another hand-signed petition with about 100 signatures.

“It’s not fair that we can’t have chickens in town. People have cats. People have dogs,” resident Bud Smith said.

He said he understands some of the Council’s objections, but there are ways to work those out by limiting the amount of chickens residents can have to 5 to 10 per property, not allowing for roosters, and through a permitting process.

Those who were in favor of having chickens, did not agree on what the limit number should be. Some said four, while others wanted as many as 15.

Council Discussion

Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo had some concerns with why the issue was being brought up.

“The only problem is. Usually when you want to go about this. And don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against chickens and I love eggs. The bottom line is, you don’t find yourself breaking the law, when you decide you want to change the law,” he said.

Mayor Kaumo said he has an open mind, but wanted to know what the Councilors thought.

Councilor Brent Bettolo said he didn’t feel they needed to rehash the issue. He said Rock Springs Animal Control already has enough to do and this would only add to their burden.

“I’ve had a number of calls over the last two weeks on this issue and I’ve got to tell you the vast majority of people that I’ve talked to don’t want it,” Bettolo said.

Councilor Tim Savage said 75 percent of Rock Springs homes already have at least one pet now and residents can have up to four, which can be a combination of animals. Of those, only 10 percent obtain a license every year, and probably only around 1 percent get a fine every year for not having a license.

“We simply don’t have the staff…,” Savage said. “We have one nuisance officer, who is extremely busy and really has no time for any of this.”

“It’s just not going to work in my mind,” Savage said.

Bertagnolli said Green River Animal Control isn’t having an issue with chickens and they even allow for roosters.

When presented with Green River’s information, Savage said Rock Springs and Green River are two completely different places. Rock Springs is twice the size of Green River and has half of the staff Green River Animal Control does. He said the animal control in Green River only has a few cats and dogs, whereas Rock Springs has more than 40 cats and 15 dogs at any given time.

Councilor Rob Zotti said he knows there are already several Rock Springs residents who have chickens in town and there are not complaints on them. Zotti admitted that he was against the idea at first, but after doing some research he’s changed his mind.

Councilor David Halter said he originally voted against the ordinance in 2013, however he did like the ordinance the Council came up with and he would support allowing for up to four chickens.

“I like the ordinance the way it was before, the reason I voted against it was because we had such opposition to it before and our animal control didn’t want to deal with it then…,” Halter said. “I’m open to looking at it again.”

Councilor Tim Robinson said he was learning toward yes on chickens, but he’s only one opinion and wouldn’t mind revisiting the issue.

Councilor Keaton West said he is not in favor of revisiting the issue and the majority of the calls he’s receiving are against it.

Councilors Larry Hickerson and Jeannie Demas both said they were on the fence.

After the long discussion, Mayor Kaumo asked the Council to review the materials provided and think about how they would like to move forward. Kaumo said he would like the Council to make a decision at the next meeting on whether or not to put the ordinance on an upcoming Council agenda and start going through the ordinance and public hearing process. Mayor Kaumo encouraged the public to reach out to their Councilors and let them know how they feel about the issue.