Chickens found on campus; police investigate foul play

Credit: Courtney Wittekind/News Editor Credit: Courtney Wittekind/News Editor

Over the past week, nine chickens were found across campus. The chickens were found alone, some deposited in paper bags, malnourished, and apparently painted. Carnegie Mellon University Police arranged for the chickens to be transported to the Wildbird Recovery sanctuary north of the city.

Stanley Krowitz, the University Center’s evening business manager, described the first bird sighting as quite a spectacle. Between Wean and Kirr Commons in the UC, “there was a reddish rooster ... with families and kids around saying ‘Oh, look at the cute chicken.’ ” With the help of others in the UC, Krowitz was able to temporarily hold the chicken, and one other bird found in the racquetball courts, in standard-issue Carnegie Mellon cardboard recycling receptacles.

Beth McMaster, who owns the Wildbird Recovery center where the birds are staying, has been forthcoming with police and the local media, asking for those who did this to be prosecuted. While initial local news reports seemed to indicate that Carnegie Mellon would be handling this situation entirely internally, The Tartan has been told that is not the case.

Michael Murphy, vice president for Campus Affairs and interim dean of Student Affairs, spoke with The Tartan by phone Friday. He stated that after the internal process was completed the administration would then “engage the right outside agency,” adding, “If it does need to result in some formal external notification, it will be done.”

Murphy wanted to acknowledge that although this is an incident that many people are very interested in, the university’s policy is to not discuss “the details of the situation until we have completed the investigation and decided what judicial action is warranted.”
A number of student groups, the Office of Student Life, and University Police declined comment, as the investigation is currently ongoing.

Murphy said that this is not the last we will hear about the chickens. “I think this will all come out, speaking about the situation with the chickens,” he said. “We will be fully disclosing, ultimately, when we do know all the facts.”

This disclosure is what some like McMaster are looking for, regardless of the effect it may have on some students’ lives if they are criminally prosecuted. The Western Pennsylvania Humane Society told TribLive that the students involved could face up to $750 in fines and 90 days in jail for animal cruelty.

Krowitz wants a more thoughtful approach taken if students are involved, “There are things you don’t allow, but you don’t just crucify them...,” he said. “You need to understand the root of the problem.” And certainly he wishes to understand how these hens ended up in the University Center on his watch, telling The Tartan, “That was the craziest Saturday I have had in 10 years.”