The Village of Arroyo Grande has seen a big drop in the number of roosters that hang out by the creek, prompting many people to ask, "Where did they go?"
On Tuesday afternoon, we only spotted three along the Arroyo Grande Creek.
When you think of the Village of Arroyo Grande, roosters and hens likely come to mind. People flock to the village to catch a glimpse of the town’s de-facto mascot.
"You see them in retail shops. Even during the pandemic we had a rooster with a mask on, like roosters are beloved here,” said Erika Satkoski, the owner and operator of Lily’s Animal Sanctuary.
Village roosters are the subject of artwork. There’s Rooster Creek Tavern. Bathroom signs have roosters on them. They’re even inspiration for pet names.
“His name is Rooster for the roosters in the village,” said Tami White, gesturing to her dog, Rooster.
But there has been a big change in the last year or so. Areas that used to be full of roosters and hens are now largely empty.
“I would say the population is probably down at least 60, 70 percent,” said White, an Arroyo Grande resident.
So what’s driving the sudden drop in the number of chickens? Satkoski and others believe larger animals are to blame.
“Definitely predation. I have seen coyotes myself. I’ve been down in the mornings when they tend to be out,” Satkoski said. “What I’ve heard is that there’s no time frame anymore, they’re just out and about whenever."
Residents and business owners say they have seen coyotes come down to the creek to prey on roosters and hens.
“My office is in the village. In the back parking lot here, the coyote comes to eat and we’ll find remnants of the chickens,” White said.
Some of the roosters have also ended up with rescue organizations like Lily’s Animal Sanctuary, which currently has three village roosters.
The owner says that roosters and hens are often abandoned and left to fend for themselves.
“I would like to see people learn what’s actually happening and discouraging people from abandoning animals,” Satkoski said.
Residents say they’ve also seen coyotes wander into yards in and around the village.