A backyard chicken that was in hiding after being evicted from its North Park home has been eaten by a coyote, its owner said.

Owl, a three-year-old Americuana hen, had been living in a makeshift coop elsewhere in San Diego ever since city officials told her owners they were violating city rules by keeping her and another hen in their North Park backyard.

A neighbor had reported the chickens to the city.

After all the hens’ options were exhausted, a fellow chicken-lover agreed to let them stay behind her house, which was perched near the edge of a canyon. We reported on the hens’ saga back in May but withheld their exact location upon their owners’ request. The hens were still in violation of city rules that require chickens to be kept at least 50 feet from any house.

About six weeks ago, owner Kaya de Barbaro said, the house’s owner had let the two hens out of their pen to scavenge a little patch of dirt and weeds. The hens also enjoyed exploring the edges of the abutting canyon. The homeowner was nearby but out of view of the hens when she heard the sound of another animal and a panicked screech from one of the chickens. Startled, she hurried to find out what had caused the commotion. When she arrived, de Barbaro said, Owl was gone.

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After Owl went missing, de Barbaro said she spent several hours searching the canyon for any sign of the hen. She found nothing: not a drop of blood, not a feather. She assumed a coyote had plucked Owl up and spirited her away.

“This never would have happened in North Park,” de Barbaro said.

It was a dramatic end to a short but storied life, more than half of which had been spent on the run. Owl’s forced exile had become something of an example for local food and urban agriculture advocates, who have recently embarked on a push to get the San Diego City Council to change city rules for keeping chickens. A growing interest in keeping backyard chickens has come into conflict with the city’s requirement that they be kept 50 feet from any home, making it difficult to keep them in most backyards.

Next week, the council’s land use committee is expected to begin discussing the issue.

Please contact Adrian Florido directly at adrian.florido@voiceofsandiego.org or at 619.325.0528 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/adrianflorido.

Adrian Florido is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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