Famous Ybor City rooster killed as chicken population in historic district plunges

TAMPA, Fla. — Woven into the history of Ybor City are cigars, Cuban culture, and the unmistakable sounds of a rooster's crow.  

"I love the chickens because they make Ybor different from any other place in Tampa," said Sarah Hanson, who has lived in the area since 2016. 

Fans of the urban birds are concerned by the results of a new survey, conducted by the City of Tampa. 

"They're very much a part of our community and I can't imagine someone would want to kill off chickens," said Hanson. 

Related: Ybor City roosters are here to stay thanks to council's decision to leave ordinance alone

Tampa's Neighborhood Enhancement surveyed the number of roosters near Centennial Park and the results show a dramatic decline over recent months. 

Two-thirds of birds initially counted are gone, from 89 to now only 29. 

"I would not have guessed that we have less than half the chickens that we had a couple of months ago," said Hanson. "So it's not noticeable yet, but it's very concerning. I would hate to lose them."

This comes after the mysterious death of the neighborhood's most recognizable rooster, The Colonel. 

"People who would come to the market or visit the park, that seemed to be the one that they all took pictures of," said Dylan Breese, founder of Ybor Chickens Society. 

Breese says a weapon left behind, discovered next to Colonel, indicates foul play. 

"The way he was found, it was obvious that a person had done it," said Breese. "He wasn't in a condition that an animal could have put him in."

Breese believes what happened to Colonel is an isolated incident. 

Florida Voices for Animals, an animal rights charity, has pledged a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for Colonel's death. 

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