To the members of city council,
I am a resident of 158 Harmon St., and I, along with the coalition of concerned citizens, before you today to urge for a new set of regulations concerning a growing problem in our neighborhood: the rising number of neighbors who have begun raising velociraptors in their backyards.
For those unaware, ten years ago, DynaCorp, a prominent genetics agricultural firm, began selling a new line of products: VeloSis Raptor™ (named for the previously extinct dinosaur, V. Mongoliensis). These creatures are marketed as a new type of meat product, which sit alongside chicken and turkey in the supermarket aisles. As many of you know well, they tastes somewhere between the two with a bit of an additional spicy kick, and they're a staple during the June 11th Jurassic Day celebrations across the country.
While the company has been selling its dinosaur meat in supermarkets it began selling live raptor chicks directly to consumers to raise on their own. At 45 lbs. fully-grown, these animals are about the size of a large turkey, are covered in bright green-and-red feathers, and feature a long talon on each of their feet, which DynaCorp recommends regularly filing down to avoid injury to farmers or fellow animals. DynaCorp only sells to farmers after they undergo a training course and corporate licensing program, which can be done in a 30 minute online course. It also mandates that all of its products be chipped with a tracker, but are otherwise generally held to the same regulations as most backyard poultry.
Free-range poultry has been a popular pastime across the US, and while I applaud the practice of growing one’s own food, free-range velociraptors have become a nuisance in our neighborhood and anecdotally, a serious problem across the country.
Defenders of the practice have pointed to the existing rules in place across the country, but we feel that our city is in dire need of stricter regulations to oversee the raising of such animals, given the danger that they pose.
I would like to highlight a handful of instances that demonstrate the need for tougher rules around these animals.
- On July 11th, 2033, Keelia Jay, a backyard farmer in Ellenstown, New York, found a dead deer in the park near her residence, and discovered that ten of the creatures under her care were able to jump the fences on her property and were attacking and killing larger animals in the area.
The city brought in state fish and wildlife officials, who have determined that the presence of her animals in the local environment have caused a serious decline in local fauna, including some endangered predators who have found their food supply depleted by their new competition. Jay has since mended and upgraded her fence, but and continues to maintain her current flock. Neighbors have lodged several complaints about dead pets in the months since, but have not been able to conclusively point to Jay’s animals as the culprits.
- On April 3rd, 2034, administrators put the Barre City Elementary School in Vermont into lockdown when a first grader smuggled his family’s juvenile Raptor (named “Cuddles”) into his classroom for show-and-tell.
The raptor was startled by the general noise level of the classroom, tore its way out of the child’s backpack and escaped into the school’s air ducts, disrupting other classes throughout the building. It has yet to be caught, despite the efforts of the school’s janitor, and is believed to still be living in the ducts.
- On August 2nd, 2034, family members discovered Kristin Dearborn at her home in South Burlington, Vermont. She had raised a pair of raptors, and while playing with them in the backyard with an oversized rope bone, one of the animals jumped and kicked her. She suffered deep cuts in his chest and neck and later died. The animals escaped from her property shortly thereafter.
First responders ended up calling animal control, which spent three weeks working to track the animals down and capture them. Per DynaCorp guidelines, they have since been euthanized.
- Finally, last summer in Lititz, Pennsylvania, agricultural inspectors ordered the destruction of the entire population of three chicken farms after discovering that they had been infected with a previously unknown strain of avian flu. An investigation found that a grouping of previously free-range velociraptors had escaped and formed their own flock in an abandoned farm, and incubated the strain. The raptors appeared to only be carriers for the disease, but the state ordered fish and wildlife officials to eliminate nest.
Authorities encountered unexpected problems when they went to exterminate the flock: they were met with violent and coordinated attacks by the creatures, which initially resulted in three people going to the hospital with talon lacerations and bite marks. One police officer died after he was separated from his unit and attacked. The state ended up calling in the Pennsylvania National Guard to help contain the flock, and had to use flamethrowers to burn a section of the forest before it was contained. DynaCorp is currently facing three lawsuits from various parties over the incident, but has disavowed all responsibility, saying that farmers did not adhere to recommended guidelines and thus violated the terms and conditions of their IP. It has promised to improve its oversight policies. I would recommend reading the feature article published in last month’s Atlantic, “Cretaceous War: How a Pennsylvania town became home to a war last waged 71 million years ago.”
This is not a problem that happens somewhere else. This last month, a new neighbor moved into the neighborhood with a flock of these animals, and they have immediately become a problem. Just yesterday, I discovered that one of the raptors had escaped and entered my backyard, where it stared at me before vanishing into the bushes. We no longer have songbirds visiting our feeders, and our cat has been missing for weeks now. We no longer let our children out in our backyard alone. I shudder to think about what this is doing to the value of the homes on our street.
Something needs to be done. I, and other like-minded civic members would like to urge that the city adopt new governance rules for the keeping of such animals. We feel that the city needs to update the existing rules on the books for keeping these dangerous creatures on properties, including, but not limited to the following:
- Updated fencing requirements. We recommend that these animals be contained in fencing with a cap. Where that isn't practical, with barriers that prevent them from climbing over the top.
- A requirement for digital monitoring to allow neighbors to monitor and track where the animals are in their neighborhoods.
- Mandatory licensing requirements beyond a 30-minute computer test.
- A clearer chain of responsibility for emergency services. Who do I call when I find a raptor in my backyard? Animal control, DynaCorp’s cooking hotline, or the police department’s SWAT team?
- Severe punishments and fines for owners who fail to adhere to minimum safety guidelines.
We are not calling for these creatures to be banned outright. We recognize what they’ve done for the city when it comes to farm-to-table initiatives, farmers markets, and so forth. When properly attended to, they do wonders for keeping down rodent populations that weren’t handled by local hawks. Some even make good pets. Above all, they are extremely tasty.
But, we need to make sure that our neighborhoods and streets are safe from the menace that these animals bring. We've seen reports that DynaCorp is experimenting with a potential Tyrannosaurus Rex product — do we really want cower from these Cretaceous beasts? We need better rules to prevent these animals from causing more problems, before it's too late.
Thank you for your time,
The Harmon Street Coalition of Concerned Citizens
(PS: at the very least, we would like an apology — or maybe some breasts and thighs after they're slaughtered — from our neighbors for the distress they’ve caused.)