Slow going in battle to rein in Surrey’s controversial peacock population
It is a strange sight. A fully grown peacock strutting down a residential street isn’t something you would expect to see in a Surrey neighbourhood.
In Sullivan Heights it is an everyday occurrence. There are as many as 40 birds wandering the streets here.
After years of complaints from some residents, the city has launched a population control program.
Nine birds have been trapped and relocated so far. It’s believed there are between 25 and 30 birds still on the loose, but it is hard to get an accurate count of how many are left in the wild.
”Because they fly, trapping them isn’t as straight forward as many people might think. Their size also makes the job much more difficult,” says Surrey’s public safety operation manager Kim Marosevich.
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In other jurisdictions, according to Marosevich, the peafowl have started to recognize the vehicles used for trapping and start to avoid capture.
The birds have caused a major split in the Sullivan Heights neighbourhood.
While some think they are a charming addition to the streets, people who live where the birds roost say they are a nuisance.
The birds screech well into the night, especially during the spring mating season. In some cases, people have lost the use of their back yards because they are constantly covered in bird droppings.
The city does have an outside expert to help ease the problem.
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A biologist has been brought in to conduct the trapping, but the program takes time.
Once trapped, the birds are taken to the Surrey Animal Resource Centre where they are checked for health problems before being taken to new homes.
The size of the birds means the facility can only hold a few at a time, and because they are feral birds they come with a host of health issues that require weeks of extra care.
According to the city, the trapping program is going reasonably well but it could take years to get the population under control.
“So far this year there have been fewer nuisance complaints, but it is still early in the breeding season when we typically see the highest volume of calls,” says Marosevich.
The city has also put up signage warning people there is a city bylaw in place making it illegal to feed the birds or care for them.
So far no tickets have been issued. At this point it is important to educate the public about the complications from keeping wild birds as — sort of — pets.
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