Some of the nearly 100 chickens that inexplicably showed up all over the Saanich Peninsula Thursday morning appeared to be exhausted and starving, according to officials.

Police, firefighters and animal control officers spent their morning rounding up dozens of birds that were running free in multiple locations in Central Saanich and North Saanich.

They could be seen corralling about 30 chickens in two areas of Wallace Road in Central Saanich, and several more chickens on Wain Road in North Saanich.

First responders then managed to capture an additional 23 "unruly" chickens in the 800-block of Birth Road in a tennis court before animal control could pick them up.

"I caught seven. I was having a little bit of a competition with one of the RCMP officers," said North Saanich Firefighter Kurt Barner. "One egg was laid."

A family also showed up at the first scene on Wallace Road with seven chickens they had captured.

In the end, 93 of the animals – all laying hens – were eventually rounded up and taken by animal control, but the mystery remains as to how they got there in the first place.

"We have no idea where these chickens came from," said CRD Animal Control Chief Bylaw Officer Don Brown. "The police did some inquiries in the area, and none of the farmers are missing chickens, so we don't know if they've simply escaped from somewhere or if someone's deliberately gone and dumped these chickens."

Brown said the birds also seemed to be in rough shape, with some exhibiting signs of extreme hunger. One of the chickens unfortunately died in the process, Brown said.

"Sometimes people do dump animals and of course in a case like that, we would turn that over to the SPCA," said Brown. "This would certainly fall under their purview."

If no one claims the chickens, animal control could suggest the BC SPCA launch a cruelty investigation into possible animal dumping.

"Hopefully it isn't the case that someone's dumped them," said Brown. "Hopefully it's the case of a bad storm, with the weather we've had recently, perhaps a barn door has come open, but it's been a while already."

Nobody had claimed the chickens by late Thursday afternoon.