This artist sketch provided by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on Wendesday shows a man who is suspected of shooting and killing a peacock. The peacock was reportedly shot from the man's Mercedes-Benz in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif. earlier this month.

Peacock shot in California, suspect on the loose

Peacock shot in Southern California earlier this month. Officials have released a police sketch of a man suspected of shooting the peacock from his Mercedes-Benz.

Officials have released a sketch of a man suspected of shooting and killing a peacock from his Mercedes-Benz earlier this month in Southern California.

An eyewitness reported the man shot the exotic bird with a pellet gun July 9 on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles said in a statement Tuesday.

Witnesses said the bird was standing in a driveway and the man fired from the driver's seat of the silver Mercedes sedan.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles said 52 peafowl have been killed or injured since June 2012 on the peninsula, which features neighborhoods of luxury homes overlooking the Pacific Ocean about 20 miles south of downtown Los Angeles.

Some of the killings were accidental, but others were intentional, prompting an investigation by animal control and law enforcement officials.

Peafowl are not native to Southern California, but the species has thrived in several areas since being introduced close to a century ago, typically to grace estates in a less suburbanized era.

In the San Gabriel Valley, for example, Arcadia officially celebrates the peacocks imported by city founder Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin by depicting the bird on its signage and informing residents how to get along with them.

The feeling is not unanimous, however, in every community.

The shrieking cries and use of landscaping as food, and patios and yards as restrooms, regularly leads to disputes between peacock opponents and defenders who enjoy the sight of iridescent feathers and crests.

The result has ranged from programs to reduce peafowl populations, lawsuits, court rulings and sometimes killings.

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