Peacocks become a colorful problem in Florida
Some Florida neighborhoods are overrun with peacocks, but not all agree that the colorful birds should be removed.
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Earlier this year, a Hawaii woman admitted she became so enraged with the birds' constant squawking that she clubbed one to death with a baseball bat. She was later arrested on animal cruelty charges.Skip to next paragraph
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"The basic solution to peafowl is that you've got three choices," said Dennis Fett, an Iowa peafowl farmer who often helps communities deal with the birds. "You either learn to live with them, capture them out of existence, or move."
But not everyone wants to see them go — in part, because they are so beautiful and they are also symbols of a laid-back Florida lifestyle.
"I just can't see not living with the world God gave us," said Pat Herrnann, who lives across the street from O'Neill. It makes for some interesting neighborly discussions.
After tourists repeatedly stopped and tossed bread to the vagrant fowl, O'Neill put a big sign on her lawn that said, "Don't Feed the Peacocks."
The sign was stolen, and Ms. Herrnann put up a sign of her own: "Peacocks Welcome!"
One of the last times Drake rounded up some of the birds, a neighbor called police, enraged that he was removing them.
Sighed Drake: "I hate that this issue pits neighbor against neighbor."
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it receives dozens of calls from angry residents about peacocks across the state. But the state considers them domestic birds, like chickens, and not wild birds. So officials don't deal with them.
But commission spokesman Gary Morse said it's one more example of a nonnative species invading Florida. Many of the peacocks were once pets that grew too big, or escapees from roadside zoos, or on the lam from farms.
"It's no different than releasing Burmese pythons," he said, citing another invasive species that's overtaken parts of Florida.
Mr. Morse said the birds can be aggressive and messy and can carry diseases.
"The average Florida neighborhood is not a good place for a peacock," he said. "Regardless of how beloved they are by residents."