SHOCKED residents voiced their horror after finding dead chickens on top of a front gate, but the owner says he put the chickens there to protest a 'family of foxes' terrorising the neighbourhood.

Several dead chickens were found on top of a homeowner's front gate yesterday afternoon, terrifying neighbours around The Crescent in Westhoughton.

Residents feared that the chickens had been 'impaled' on the fence by a brutal offender, even calling the scene a sign that behaviour in Westhoughton is getting worse.

In a surprising twist, a man claiming to be the owner of the chickens revealed that he himself placed them on the gate in a fit of 'annoyance'.

A man claiming to be the owner said that foxes attacked his chickens just after 11am that morning, killing seven in the hen coop.

He said that he 'wedged' the dead chickens in the gate to show what the foxes had done, as he believes there are people in the town feeding the foxes, encouraging the 'well-fed killers' to stalk the streets.

The owners are said to have been left 'distraught' by the animal attack, saying the chickens are 'family' and were 'good layers'.

The resident says he is concerned that the foxes may one day hurt a human: "These things could kill a man if they had to."

Neighbour Bev Pye, 47, found out about the chickens after her son discovered them while dog walking. She was horrified at the revelation, worried for the children at the nearby school.

She said: “My son was walking the dog this afternoon, he found them. It looked like someone had impaled them. I don’t if they were alive or dead.

“It was the owner's chickens from what I was been told — those are someone’s pets and they have been mutilated like that."

She said the shocking incident was a sign to leave the area: “Westhoughton is just getting worse and worse. There’s something not right in this area. I’m looking to move out of the area very soon.

“My son was horrified. He’s an animal lover and was very upset.”

It is understood that the chickens were removed a short time later.

The man says he will be replacing his chickens.