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Town says 12 peacocks to remain in Village

MELISSA  REID
Associate Publisher
mreid@lbknews.com

Town Commissioners decided zero females and 12 males are all they are willing to handle; despite how pretty they may be. Commissioners voted to move forward at the July 6 regular meeting to cull the Village peafowl to 12 males.

According to Public Works Director Juan Florensa, the last full-scale attempt to control the peafowl was in 2011. Village resident James Braha, Commissioner Pat Zunz, Police Chief Pete Cumming, and Florensa have been studying the current peafowl population, and Florensa estimates the population has increased to approximately 100 birds. Many Village residents are frustrated with the mess, noise and damage done to automobiles and property that the peafowl present and would like the peafowl number reduced significantly or eliminated altogether. Some residents enjoy the birds and believe they are a unique aspect to living in the Village.

Florensa told the commission that the trappers that have been used over the years periodically to cull the numbers of peafowl have not been able to finish the job for a number of reasons.

“The answer from Mr. Braha is that the trappers he used would remove 10-20 and then realize that it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. He would call another trapper who would remove 20-30, they would go away, and he would never finish the job. I think the town has a little more resources than just one person in the village running the resources. The RFP (Request for Proposal) could put in that there is an incentive to remove all the birds. But mainly the trappers that were hired were not able to finish the job,” said Florensa.

According to town staff, the peafowl are treated under the law like chickens; they cannot be killed and they can’t be relocated without a permit. To relocate them after they are caught, they can’t be placed into a wild area, it has to be private property and with consent of the owner.

The town has determined to control the number of birds, the trappers will need to remove all the peahens and leave a limited number of male birds. Florensa said it would be a large-scale ongoing trapping process in which the initial cost would be about $10,000.

“A large funding would be needed for the original removal, but an ongoing cost would be needed to remove more as females who are missed either through the hatching process or ones that are not caught,” said Florensa.

Commissioner Phill Younger wanted to remove all the peafowl, so the town would not be continuing to outlay costs in the future.

“I don’t see any benefit in just removing the peahens, we’ve talked about it before and we didn’t do it. I think that if we’re going to do this, they all need to go; period,” said Younger.

Commissioner Pat Zunz who lives in the Village agreed with the idea of eliminating the peahens and leaving only 12 males.

“If you have 12 males, you wouldn’t have the problem we have now. There are properties that they congregate on. I think you do need to get rid of the females. If you had a hundred or so dogs or cats running around the Village, it would be a nuisance. They have really come to the point where they are a nuisance. It’s not an issue of whether they’re pretty or not,” said Zunz.

 

Costs of removal and maintenance

Mayor Jack Duncan was concerned that there have been previous attempts to cull the flock in the past and it has not succeeded.

“The thing that is troubling to me is that I don’t know what went wrong with the first two attempts and now we’re going to try it a third attempt,” said Duncan.

Vice Mayor Terry Gans asked Florensa how much more than the original outlay of $10,000 it would cost to have ongoing flock culling and if the trappers will find and retrieve the eggs as well.

Florensa said the town has talked with the city of Palos Verde, California, who have a similar issue and they estimated the cost in the neighborhood of $40,000-$50,000.

He also added that the trappers will get some of the eggs, but will not be able to find them all and that some residents will allow traps and the trappers to come onto their property; but that there will be others who do not, which will make it difficult to get all the eggs and birds.

“That’s why I recommend that we do an ongoing maintenance,” said Florensa.

 

One resident speaks out

Village resident Kip O’Neill came to speak in front of commission about her experience with the peafowl.

“I’m here for two reasons, one is to clear some things up that may be in your minds, by recent claims by letters or stories in the press. I’m talking about a letter that you have all received, which blames people who are newcomers, disgruntled residents, and have way too much time on their hands and want to stir things up. I am not a newcomer, I am not disgruntled or have too much time on my hands. On the contrary, I would like to improve the quality of life in my area, and calm things down. The letter also says that the current system of thinning works very well. There are more and more peacocks in the village with babies running around every day. I’d like to tell you some of the incidents that some of the neighbors and I have endured over the years. The peacocks, beautiful that they are, are noisy, filthy, they stomp on my roof every morning. Two years ago, I had to have a new roof, because the roofer said that something has been scratching the roof. I’ve had 30 peacocks on my roof at a time. I’ve had my car painted twice. It’s a problem, it’s a health hazard, and just one peacock can ruin the plants, scratch your car and make a lot of noise,” said O’Neill.

 

To eradicate or cull

Florensa informed the commission that the town is not sure the current percentage of males versus females, but Commissioner Zunz who lives in the Village assured that there seems to be more peahens and chicks than males.

A motion was made to eliminate all peafowl in the Village and the vote failed 4-2 with Commissioner Irwin Pastor, Commissioner Lynn Larson, Vice Mayor Gans and Mayor Jack Duncan dissenting.

Duncan then added that he wants the town staff for some very specific information on how many peafowl there are and the costs involved in removing them.

“I just don’t see how it can be an ongoing cost out of the budget,” said Duncan.

Town Manager Dave Bullock informed the commission on what would happen if the town takes charge of the peafowl culling in the Village.

“We don’t decide what the peafowl do. We’ll trap as many as we can trap, we’ll try to get them all. We’ll do our best in whatever direction you send us, but unlike building a park or engineering a beach, I don’t expect they will give us guarantees and there will be some things working in our favor and some things working against what we’re trying to do. I just don’t want you to think that we can get the problem eliminated so simply. Right now we’re going to get you a cost estimate for the RFP,” said Bullock.

Gans reiterated that the commission’s expectation for the removal is 12 males and then a maintenance cost.

The commission then voted on culling the peafowl to 12 males, and the motion passed 5-1 with Younger dissenting.

Bullock said the town is on schedule to come back in the Fall for the peacock issue.

“We could place an RFP out and after summer break you could make a decision whether you want to pursue that. Everyone in the Village has been asked how many peacocks would be the right number of birds, and 12 was the number in a previous ordinance,” said Florensa.

 

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