Amid stalled relocation efforts due to the pandemic, parts of southern California have now reportedly become overrun with peacocks.
The large birds, which are traditionally known for their vibrant, beautiful tail feathers, have become a nuisance to many residents of the region where they run wild, the Washington Post reported. Spotted across Pasadena and in the San Gabriel Valley, just north-east of Los Angeles, hundreds of peacocks have been seen standing in homeowners’ lawns, on rooftops, and casually sauntering down city sidewalks.
“Urban sprawl caused the problem in southern California. It encroached on their territory, and basically the peacocks stayed in the trees – generations of them. In some places, it’s almost impossible to capture every single one of them,” Dennis Fett, co-founder and director of the Peacock Information Center, told Slate.
In addition to their physical presence, the peacocks have also been a disturbance because of their incessant squawking, sometimes occurring in the early morning and late into the night.
“They wake me up at dawn. They sound like babies being tortured through a microphone, a very large microphone. And that is probably the start of my complaints,” Kathleen Tuttle, 68, an East Pasadena resident, told the Post.
Problems with peacocks have been polarizing, dividing many communities across Pasadena, with one resident describing the issue as “more divisive than national politics”.
Some residents enjoy the presence of the peacocks. Peacock devotees often feed the birds, defying anti-feeding mandates in many municipalities. Others, however, detest the feral birds, who, in addition to their loud mating cries, are known to tear up gardens and destroy window shingles.
Male peacocks also peck at parked cars, sometimes mistaking their reflection for a rival to potential, romantic mates. Some residents, frustrated by the current lack of relocation services, have taken drastic steps to curb the growing peacock population: trying to hit peacocks with their cars, shoot them with pellet guns, or poison them.
“It’s the most polarizing thing I’ve ever been involved with,” said Mike Maxcy, a retired curator of birds for the Los Angeles Zoo, to the Post. “Seventy percent of the population hate them and want them out. Thirty percent love and cherish them.”
Given escalating issues, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the governing body for Los Angeles county, is prepared to vote on an ordinance that could ban intentional feeding of any peacocks. Feeding the fowls would be punishable by a $1,000 fine or up to six months in jail.
An anti-feeding law already exists in Arcadia, , a city in Los Angeles county, though city officials state that no one has been prosecuted under the ordinance.