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Peacock purge continues as Longboat removes babies

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Longboat Key’s policy to eradicate all female peacocks from the north-end Village is upsetting some families including 11-year-old Brice Claypoole.

Brice wrote Vice Mayor Ed Zunz appealing for the preservation of five baby peacocks that the town Public Works Department plans to remove.

“I love watching the peacocks. They are beautiful and even a bit hilarious. It is down to only seven now; six males and one female. I was delighted when they had five babies bringing the number up to 12. But since then, the Public Works Department has said they plan to remove the babies,” wrote Claypoole.

Claypoole added that he understands that the population has to be controlled, but he wants the babies to be allowed to grow up and does not want the town to end the peacock population.

Zunz, long an advocate for removing the birds, said that he learned that Claypoole had already been informed by town officials “of our history of being inundated with dozens and dozens of peacocks that interfered with peaceful enjoyment of many residents and caused damage to property.”

Zunz went on to explain that the town repeatedly reduced the flock but the situation inevitably repeated itself. It was only a few years ago, said Zunz, that the town tried to relocate all the females and retain about a dozen males.

Zunz was alluding to the adopted policy wherein first the town paid a per bird removal fee to a trapping company. That company repeatedly returned to the commission saying it had caught the easy to catch birds, but that some peacocks proved elusive and evaded their attempts. Their appeal, which the commission granted, was to be allowed to shoot the birds with tranquilizer guns to facilitate their relocation.

Zunz said that at least one female has evaded capture and on a regular basis, “the new ones are rounded up and transported to a safe place.”

Other residents and visitors have also expressed sadness and contempt for Town Hall’s intrusion on the peacocks’ reproductive rights. A casual visit to Trip Advisor and other online forums shows countless lovers of Longboat bothered by the loss of the once-esteemed birds.

The beauty of the peacock is part of the conundrum. For years, visitors would troll in their cars around the Village and stop and take photos. Other residents complained that the late-night mating shrieks of the peacock interrupted their sleep cycles. And of course others spoke of the feces creating unsightly splatters on their often times luxury, automobiles.

And then there were also complaints of the occasional damage incurred by an overzealous bird pecking at porch screens and cars.

It was in 2015 that the town adopted the quota of zero females and 12 males. At that time the town paid Palmetto-based Nuisance Wildlife $200 per bird to remove the first 10 birds and $150 per bird after that. The contractor could not guarantee that it could accomplish the program, but said it would reduce the flock to an “acceptable number.”

A year later is when the town agreed to allow the use of tranquilizer guns to help capture the birds.

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Longboat Key News

9 Responses for “Peacock purge continues as Longboat removes babies”

  1. Patrick Bogert says:

    There is an old world charm to the peacocks. To remove all but 12 makes is just a slow removal of them all. The town spend tens of millions of $s on sand replacement what is a couple of thousand on keeping the peacocks to a reasonable number. I understand there are those who want them gone and others who wish to have some. So why dont you do the democratic thing and have a vote of the entire village…

  2. Don Rose says:

    Seeing the Peacocks for the first time in 2015 was such a delight. We love to come to LBK for Lunch or Dinner and always drive through the North End looking fokr these magnificent Birds.
    Bryce hit the nail on the head. How these beautiful birds effect the lives of the locals who love them and enjoy them daily.
    They are a part of the history of LBK.

  3. Brice Claypoole says:

    Thank you for writing this story. I know many people here in the village who love the peacocks, as well, and who I am sure will appreciate it as much as I do. My parents both spoke to the Public Works Department and they gave us no specific information on where they are sending the babies. So I am also concerned about where these very young birds are being sent. And thank you again for your support.

  4. Jacqueline Lange says:

    I find it frustrating that the town of Longboat Key has put forth a tremendous effort to rid the Village of the peacocks and yet refused to address the coyote problem of the past year. In fact the town went so far as to call in experts to lecture residents about how we have to learn to live side by side with the coyote and strongly (and inacurately) asserted that coyotes did not pose a threat to residents. While both non-indigenous species pose a nuicanse, the peacocks do not pose a DANGER to residents and pets. One person’s nuicance is another person’s glory. While I believe the peacock population can and should be controlled, we should allow a number of these amazing birds to remain in the village, continuing to represent one of the many magical qualities of our island.

  5. The peacocks represent part of the charm and allure of Longbeach Village and many of my clients keep coming back just to see them once more… to me they are part of Longboat’s colourful history along with the raccoon at Euphemia Haye which were part of the attraction back in the day. Please save the peacocks for bird & nature lovers and children alike!

  6. Stephen Crawford says:

    Out of the heart of a child comes a sincere desire for others to see these treasures into the future.
    This landmark should be preserved.
    I once many years ago, saw a documentary on Long Boat Key, later I came to visit.
    To my surprise the birds were indeed really there.
    On my many and on going visits to your beautiful place I always manage to quietly slip away to see them.
    I will be hard pressed to return knowing a few in number complaints have ruined this for everyone.
    I wish I had them in my neighborhood, the people here would gladly welcome them, as the gift of beautiful they bring, right next to all of the animals we live with.
    Please let the birds stay you are making a very terrible mistake…
    And breaking a child’s heart…

  7. Ken Schneier says:

    LBK News once again hit the nail on the head with its recognition of peacocks’ reproductive rights. While perhaps not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution or its amendments, these rights are clearly within the ever-spreading penumbra of natural liberties the Founders would have protected had they thought about it sufficiently. There is no question but that the rights of peacocks to procreate when and where they wish was implied in the 5th Amendment as extended by the 14th Amendment to the States and local governments.

  8. Catherine Strauss says:

    We’ve been coming to Longboat for the past fourteen years and now own two condos (we love it so much) and this past year were sad NOT to find one peacock off of Broadway. It has always been one of the highlights of our trips. I know they can be a menace but please keep them. The neighborhood was not the same.

  9. Marlene Crosthwait says:

    Is there not a way to do something like the zoo with these few Peacocks? I agree with the young man. How about all the ducks that make such a mess and make so much noise. Before you know it we’ll be removing turtles and manatees.
    Peacocks are beautiful birds here long before the people.

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