King William partially reimburses game bird farmer for dead fowl

KING WILLIAM — After tabling the matter twice, the King William Board of Supervisors has decided to reimburse Beaver Creek Game Birds farm owner Donald Oakley for one of three incidents involving dogs that ended with the death of his fowl.

Supervisors tabled the matter in April and May before unanimously passing a resolution June 23 to reimburse Oakley $824.50. This covered Oakley's estimated value of $8.50 per chukar for a total loss of 97 birds.

Oakley's farm is located in the Central Garage area of King William.

Virginia law and King William County code allow poultry owners to receive up to $10 per fowl, depending on the fair value market of the fowl, if the fowl are killed or injured by a dog that is not their own.

According to the code, the claimant must provide evidence to the county within 60 days of discovery regarding the quantity and value of the fowl, as well as his or her reasoning for believing a dog killed the fowl. The claimant must notify the animal control officer of the incident within 72 hours as well.

Between January and March 2014, the game bird farmer lost more than $6,000 worth of fowl. Oakley reported 56 dead chukars on Jan. 2, 405 dead pheasants on Jan. 26 and 97 dead chukars on March 28 to Animal Control.

Animal Control Officer Deputy Mart Koontz explained that King William did not reimburse Oakley for the first two incidents because he did not file any of his claims with the county until April 2, outside of the 60-day requirement.

Oakley said he was originally under the impression that he needed to file claims with the county within 90 days instead of 60.

"With the information that I had, we did what we thought we needed to do," he explained.

Oakley said he hoped to receive reimbursement for the 405 dead pheasants because, at $12 per bird, it was a "substantial loss."

However, Oakley looked at the reimbursement he did receive as a "blessing."

Oakley said the reimbursement is essentially the cost of two tons of bird feed. He typically purchases four to five tons of feed at a time.

"I would've liked to have gotten more, but honestly, I hate that the county's giving us anything," he added. "When you're a small business, anything helps out. But you hate to take taxpayer money for your own loss."

Oakley would like to find out who the owners of the dogs are in order to sort out the issue directly and return the reimbursement to the county.

Koontz's investigation and report concluded that the fowl were killed by dogs; the dead birds were killed without being heavily damaged or eaten, as the fowl would be if animals such as fox or coyote were the culprits.

According to Koontz, canine feces containing feathers were found on the property following two of the incidents.

Koontz has yet to determine the number of dogs or the identity of the dogs' owner(s).

Oakley said the dogs likely bit through the wire coating of the farm's fences and even broke through the separate feather pen.

"I didn't know they could do that until it happened," he said.

The farm's season concludes at the end of March, and no fowl have died since the last incident.

Oakley is taking extra measures to prevent dogs from killing his birds in the future by installing electric fencing.

"Hopefully that will keep the dogs away," Oakley said.