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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, August 6, 2004

Pesky peacocks elude the law

By Robbie Dingeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

When the peacocks showed up some six months ago in Mililani Mauka, Tad Yamakawa and his neighbors thought they were pretty entertaining. But after dealing with their piercing cries, the damaged plants and a whole lot of bird poop, they'd like to see them roost somewhere else.

And he's not the only one.

These peacocks were spotted on Halemanu Street in Kane'ohe yesterday afternoon. Wild peacocks often make unwelcome guests.

Rebecca Breyer • The Honolulu Advertiser

But residents of Mililani, Kahalu'u and McCully told The Advertiser they got the bureaucratic shuffle when they telephoned state conservation officials with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, as well as the Hawaiian Humane Society, Honolulu Zoo and even police.

People complain about the non-native birds only to find there is no government agency responsible for peacock removal. While a Honolulu ordinance clearly spells out that two chickens are allowed per household and 10 dogs (over the age of four months), peacocks end up broadly covered as a type of poultry that is largely unregulated. And in many cases, the peacocks are breeding in the wild and owned by no one.

"They're big birds so they do leave a pretty big mess." Yamakawa said. "I see them on my neighbor's back-patio dining table, the roof, the wall."

Last week's killing of nine peacocks in the Waimea Valley Audubon Center outraged animal-rights activists and people familiar with the park. They pointed to the park's long-standing association with the showy birds: how the park logo once featured a peacock and the now-shuttered restaurant was called "The Proud Peacock."

People across the state complained that the center should have tried harder to deal with the birds more humanely than killing them with bow and arrow. The center's director has apologized for the killing and said it was a mistake.

But residents from several O'ahu neighborhoods sympathize with the Waimea Valley situation. Mililani Mauka resident Francis Behic said he has come home to find peacocks on his porch. "They're exotic birds, but they're real destructive," Behic said.

Yamakawa said you can hear their cry a block away — "super-loud ... equivalent to a car horn."

Kili Kono of Kahalu'u said the birds have multiplied from nine that came from the Valley of the Temples area about two years ago. Now there are about 30. One neighbor said her dog got so sick from eating peacock droppings that it required a trip to the vet.

Officials with the Department of Land and Natural Resources said peacocks are not protected by state law, so no permit is required to remove them. Spokeswoman Deborah Ward said they recommend that residents hire a private pest control company.

Humane Society spokeswoman Jacque Smith said the organization does not pick up peacocks or respond to complaints about them but would be interested in hearing from anyone willing to take in the birds. She also said police enforce nuisance laws.

Honolulu police spokeswoman Michelle Yu said that she's sympathetic to the problem but that officers aren't trained to capture any type of animal in most circumstances. "If the animal is threatening someone, the officer will take steps to stop the threat," she said.

Eric Yamanaka, a bank administrative assistant, said one peacock has become a pest at his McCully apartment complex: "Scratching cars, damaging chrome parts of motorcycles, damaging plants and, last but not least, the poop it left behind was just awful."

According to Yamanaka, a police officer responded to complaints, expressed sympathy, said, "Wow, that's a big bird," and left.

Mililani Town Association general manager Calvin Maeda said he's been working to find a humane way to get rid of the birds that fly up from undeveloped land near Mililani but he hasn't found a good solution.

He said his office sent out a letter telling residents not to feed the birds and to douse them with a water hose to discourage them from roosting.

Maeda has been hoping to find someone willing to adopt the birds. "We thought we had a farmer down in Kailua, but he changed his mind after he heard how loud their cries are," he said.

Reach Robbie Dingeman at rdingeman@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2429.