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Feather Hair Extensions Craze Leads to Nationwide Shortage, Rooster Genocide, and Women Banned From Fly Fishing Shops

Those are rooster butt feathers in your hair, Ke$ha.
Those are rooster butt feathers in your hair, Ke$ha.

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Meanwhile, the whole country has gone feather-hair-extensions mad—so mad that women are descending like locusts upon fly-fishing shops nationwide looking for hackles, those feathery-things that can double as hair accessories. This report from the Seattle Times starts out so ominously, you can almost hear the duh-duh-dun punchline in the background.

Fly shop manager Jim Bernstein was warned that hair stylists would come banging on his door, but he didn't listen.

Sure enough, less than 24 hours later, a woman walked into the Eldredge Bros. Fly Shop in Maine and made a beeline toward a display of hackles—the long, skinny rooster feathers fishermen use to make lures.

"She brought a bunch up to the counter and asked if I could get them in pink," he said. "That's when I knew."

Will this coiffure craze result in a nationwide shortage of hackles? Will fly fishermen be forced to source their skinny feather things on the black market once the world's supply is decimated? Will the feather hair-extension craze decimate entire populations of specially-bred roosters? Hm, yes, probably, there's a very good chance.
Fly fishermen are not happy, bemoaning the trend in online message boards and sneering at so-called "feather ladies." Some also blame "American Idol" judge and rocker Steven Tyler, who began wearing the feathers in his long hair.

"It takes years and years and years to develop these chickens to grow these feathers. And now, instead of ending up on a fly, it's going into women's hair," said Matt Brower, a guide and assistant manager at Idaho Angler in Boise.

One farm in Colorado explains that the specially-bred roosters are euthanized after reaching one year of age and it's the bird's butt feathers that make the most-coveted hairpieces. This farm tells the Seattle Times that they kill more than 1,500 roosters each week and still can't keep up with salon demand.

It's gotten so bad that fly fishing shops in certain states refuse to sell hackles to women—is this a class-action discrimination suit in the making?

The craze has also left hairstylists scrambling to find rooster saddle feathers, as fly shops hold onto a select few for their regular customers. The businesses will now ask if the feathers are for hairdressing, said Shelley Ambroz, who owns MiraBella Salon and Spa in Boise.

"If you go in and you're a woman, they won't sell to you," said Ambroz, who started to eye her husband's fly-fishing gear after stores ran out.

"He told me to stay out of his feathers," she said.

· High fashion or bait? Fly ties now hair extensions [Seattle Times]