Peacocks back on agenda

Associate Publisher

Peacocks have become a bone of contention yet again in the Village of Longboat Key, with even local television newscasts picking up on the discontent.

The current flock has not been culled for at least one year, and the organization charged with reducing the number of the flock, the Village Association, has had its president, Michael Drake, step down from his position.

Commissioner Phill Younger requested that the peafowl ordinance be placed on the upcoming Thursday, April 28 commission workshop agenda for discussion.

Back in May 2008, the Town Commission considered two separate agenda items, one for an ordinance that would prohibit the feeding of peacocks, which did not pass, and the other a resolution that requested a budget transfer for $2,400 that did pass, and it was designed to reimburse the Village Association for the cost of relocating the 60 peafowl.

Drake at the time cited expenditures for the removal of 30 peacocks costing $1,200 by a state licensed firm. Drake stated the anticipated increase in flock size every year after the culling would be 12 to 24 birds annually, depending on the number of hens remaining.

No feeding ordinance has issues
Part of the problem of a no feeding ordinance centers on the enforceability of such an ordinance.

For instance, many residents put out food regularly for a variety of birds and have objected to the idea of police or code enforcement officers citing them for an activity they view as innocuous and benevolent.

There is also the issue of intentionality. For instance, some residents place bird food out to feed birds other than the peacocks, while some intend to feed the peacocks by handing out scraps of food from area restaurants. These include tourists who travel to the Village solely for the purpose of feeding the birds. The question is whether premeditated feeding would carry a stiffer penalty.

There was also the safety issue that tourists who stop their cars and feed them create a traffic hazard. According to Police Chief Al Hogle, there has never been an accident nor traffic incident reported to the department in relation to peacock feeding.

Hogle has stated that the only peacock-related police report he could recall was an incident wherein a Village dog mauled one of the birds, causing its untimely death.

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