Six high school seniors in Fort Kent were charged with criminal trespass and criminal mischief after a class prank went awry and ended up shutting down the school.
The six boys ordered 10 goslings and 45 chicks from an Indiana company and then set them loose in Community High School early Thursday morning, school officials said.
The pranksters put the birds in the school gym, in classrooms, in lockers, in offices and into a drawer of a teacher's desk, said Principal Tim Doak. But the animals left their mark on floors, chairs and tables, forcing administrators to cancel school Thursday and Friday to clean up the mess.
The school will expect full restitution for cleanup costs, which are expected to run into the thousands of dollars, said Sandra Bernstein, superintendent of School Administrative District 27. The canceled days will be added to the end of the school year.
"It's comical when you start thinking of chickens in your school, but it's just another chapter in the book of school administration," Doak said.
Superintendent: ‘It’s not funny’
A teacher discovered the intruders before 6 a.m. after entering the building and hearing the birds running around the hallways, Bernstein said. When students arrived, they were taken to the school gym, which had been sterilized, before being sent home.
A crew of about 10 was enlisted to clean and disinfect all surfaces where the birds left a mess — about 70 percent of the school. The birds pose a public safety hazard because of salmonella bacteria, Bernstein said.
"It's not funny when it's a public health risk," she said. "Salmonella is a very dangerous bacteria that can cause serious illness, particularly with anyone vulnerable or with immune system problems."
The animals, none of which were harmed, were boxed up and taken to the police chief's house, where they were expected to stay until they find new homes.
A court date has not been set, and the incident is still under investigation, said Fort Kent Police Chief Kenneth Michaud.