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Local News

WI ‘Chicken Toss’ Event Renews Animal Exploitation Concerns

Credit: iStock

Mike Moen

Later this month, a western Wisconsin town will hold an annual celebration including an event known as a “chicken toss.” Animal rights advocates say it is an example of entertainment across the country that comes at the expense of defenseless creatures.

A key attraction at Ridgeland’s Pioneer Days festival involves a contest where chickens are tossed from a rooftop, and attendees who catch a bird get to keep it.

Kristin Schrank, board vice president of the group Alliance for Animals, said the birds can become injured, and there are no veterinarians on site to evaluate them. She argued it is time for the tradition to be replaced.

“As a society, we — over time and every day — are gaining a better understanding of the mental and physical impact that events like these have on animals,” Schrank asserted.

She contended similar events, such as greased pig competitions, add to the animals’ trauma. Organizers and participants at the Ridgeland festival have long argued their event, described as “chicken fly,” is harmless fun as part of a celebration, which brings much-needed revenue to the community.

On a broader scale, some communities are changing their approach in light of growing awareness. For example, a county festival in California has replaced its greased pig competition with slippery watermelons.

Schrank noted a lot of children attend the events, which is another reason it is important to send the right message.

“How we treat animals is a demonstration of how we should have compassion for, really, for all living beings,” Schrank emphasized.

Her group also stated the chicken toss underscores the need for Wisconsin to step up enforcement of its crimes against animals law, which includes a provision for mistreatment. An online petition is circulating, calling for an end to the Wisconsin event.

Disclosure: Alliance for Animals contributes to our fund for reporting on Animal Welfare, Endangered Species and Wildlife. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


Animal laws Wis. State Legislature 2023
Petition Alliance for Animals 2023

This story was written by Mike Moen, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.