AUGUSTA — Chicken, chicken, who’s got the chicken?

After some strategic chicken wrangling Sunday afternoon, the Augusta Police do.

City police were called to the parking lot of the Olive Garden in Augusta at 12:41 p.m. on a call of a fowl running afoul of the law. They captured the chicken and are still trying to identify its owner.

The department, in a tongue-and-cheek post on its Facebook page, reported:

“Officers responded to the parking lot of the Olive Garden in Augusta for a report of a wayward chicken with a craving for soup, salad and breadsticks. An epic 20 minute foot pursuit ensued, spanning an area totaling upwards of 50 feet with the beaked bandit initially having the upper hand zigging when expected to zag. As the bird headed for Interstate on ramp and the high speeds of I-95 northbound, Augusta PD’s SNAT (Special Nets and Tactics) Team arrived on scene and apprehended the absconding bird without further incident. Anyone with knowledge of the owner or guardian of this rascal contact Augusta PD at 207-626-2370.”

Eyewitness Susan Kimball said she and her husband, Bill Ryerson, were having lunch at Olive Garden and first spotted the chicken in the parking lot and called police. Kimball, of Sidney, said the chase that ensued was a sight to see — the officers first used a smelt net to snatch the chicken and followed it over an embankment.

And then across four lanes of traffic on nearby Interstate 95.

“Three grown men running across the interstate was priceless,” Kimball said. “They were going to save it. They were not going to give up.”

The chase took about 20 minutes, Kimball said.

The Augusta Police Facebook post about the chicken incident had been shared more than 370 times by Monday afternoon and attracted the attention of dozens of commenters, who made all the required chicken jokes and puns about the location’s proximity to Kentucky Fried Chicken on Anthony Avenue and positing various theories about why it was crossing the road.

Jenna Hunnell Dawson, one of the commenters, also posted a witness statement. Two years ago, when she worked at U.S. Cellular, which was located where Town Fair Tire is now — about 1,000 feet as the chicken wanders from the Olive Garden parking lot — she and her co-workers saw a chicken at least twice.

“We would see it wandering around the parking lot,” Dawson said in an interview Monday. “We assumed someone would pick it up.”

Dawson said she is not familiar with the ways of chickens, but she said the bird the police posted on Facebook looked kind of like the chicken she saw. After checking with one of her co-workers, she said the chicken they saw two years ago was a hen; the Augusta Police have identified the bird in custody as a rooster.

“The only other animal I saw there was a moose,” she said, “and that was at about the same time, two years ago.”

On Monday, Augusta Police Sgt. Christopher Shaw said Francois Roodman, the department’s animal control officer, had been advised of the chicken situation. The bird has been taken into protective custody of Officer Brad Chase, who keeps chickens.

“Most guys don’t take chickens home with them,” Shaw said.

“He might be a Sultan or Polish cross,” Chase said, noting the rooster has feathers on his legs.

His flock consists of Rhode Island Reds and Leghorns.

Chase, who himself was involved in a chicken apprehension a couple of years ago and was able to locate the owner, said Monday the rapscallion chicken did not appear to be sick or injured; he got some water and food and appeared to be settling in.

“As of right now,” he said Monday afternoon, “the owners have not spoken up.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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