A bylaw in Abbotsford has ruffled some feathers after a woman was told to get rid of her pet chickens, though she says the birds aren’t disturbing anybody.

A few weeks ago, Tanya Buskell was told by Abbotsford officials that due to a bylaw prohibiting having chickens on residential land, she would have to find another home for her nine fowl friends.

“Unfortunately I suppose the bylaw officer found out and I received a phone call a few weeks ago saying that I needed to get rid of the chickens,” she said.

Buskell said she doesn’t think the chickens are bothering anyone, and that her neighbours’ grandchildren even come over to help collect eggs.

“It's been wonderful. They've become so tame and we really enjoy the eggs,” she said. “It’s just great fun, they’re really social.”

But Abbotsford’s mayor said residential chickens could pose a serious threat to the city's multi-million-dollar poultry industry.

“Abbotsford is probably British Columbia’s largest producer of poultry products,” said Bruce Banman.

The Fraser Valley city produces about 90 per cent of the province’s eggs and around 70 per cent of B.C.’s poultry in general, he said.

Another outbreak of avian flu like the one that caused 17-million birds to be destroyed in 2004 could be devastating to the city’s poultry industry, Banman said.

“It’s an airborne disease, so a harmless little backyard chicken could end up getting this, and it could end up infecting an entire industry.”

Banman said the city will review the bylaw to see if any changes should be made.

“There needs to be some kind of registry if you’re going to do this,” he said. “If we get hit with an avian flu again, we need to know where these are….people need to know there could be a time when they have to euthanize their pets.”

Nearby cities like Vancouver permit residential homeowners to keep up to four birds on their property, but Banman said the metropolitan area is far away enough that an avian flu outbreak there wouldn’t be much of an issue in Abbotsford.

Though she initially had 30 days to get rid of the birds, Buskell has since been told by Banman that she can keep her chickens until council makes a decision on the bylaw.

“I want the discussion to take place,” she said. “I think there should be some regulations, that maybe we should have a license so they at least know where the backyard chickens are.”

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Michele Brunoro