Jasper Council to review city code pertaining to ducks

Sam and Chrissy Harris, of Jasper, have two ducks, Alfred and Abbey, that they keep as pets. The problem is ducks are not allowed in the part of the city where they live.

According to city code, ducks are considered farm animals and farm animals are only allowed to be kept in portions of the city zoned Residential 2 or Agricultural. Anyone housing an animal in violation of city code shall be charged annually $25 for the first violation, $50 for the second violation and $100 for the third violation, according to city code.

The Harrises received a notice from the city informing them that ducks are not allowed where they live so they asked the Jasper City Council during its Sept. 13 meeting to let them keep their ducks. Sam said they obtained the ducks as ducklings and have had them for a few months. He said the ducks stay in their yard.

“We keep them kenneled up in basically a four-by-four dog kennel outside and then let them out when we get home from work,” Sam said.

He said people who have seen the ducks have had no complaints about them and he didn’t foresee them causing any problems. The couple said they’re not raising the ducks to eat them, but are keeping them as pets.

“Also, we’re right on the edge of Jasper, right there across from the old people home,” Chrissy said. “There are cows on either side of us too, so we’re in kind of that weird area. I would understand if we were further into the city.”

Dale McClure said he’s a neighbor of the Harrises and it was fine with him if they kept their ducks.
“They don’t even make noise,” he said.

Councilor Dee Arp said there is a difference between pets and livestock and that she would consider the ducks pets based on what the Harrises said. City Clerk/Treasurer Cortney Kounkel and Councilor Kim Lape said city code does not allow for any such exceptions.

Sam asked if the city could change the ordinance to allow ducks as long as the neighbors approve of it and it’s not a flock. Chrissy asked if some kind of exception could be added to the code that requires council approval.

Lape said changing the ordinance could open up the possibility of people wanting to keep other animals as pets that are not currently allowed by city code.

“I’m totally on deck with you guys having that as a pet, but that, like I said, is just opening up the door for a wide variety of things,” Lape said.

Mayor Mike Baustian and other council members said they didn’t see any problem with pet ducks. Kounkel said the council would then have to rewrite the ordinance. She said she’d bring information pertaining to the matter to the city council’s October meeting for consideration. For now, the council members said the Harrises can keep their ducks.