Want to see a Columbia County employee run for cover?
Just say the word “peacock.”
It’s not because they’re afraid of the noisy, colorful birds. It’s because, for several years, they’ve been badgered about peafowl in a small area of Martinez.
Virtually all of those complaints have come from one very vocal, and abrasive, longtime resident of the area. Everyone else long ago accepted the birds as just another quirky feature of their neighborhood.
What seems to have changed lately is not the people, however, but the peafowls’ habitat. The construction of the controversial Magnolia Trace subdivision apparently has driven the big birds out into nearby neighborhoods, where they’ve worn out their welcome.
As a result, residents’ complaints have gotten as loud as the birds’ mating calls. So now the county is finding a way to step in.
“These people are desperate,” said Columbia County Administrator Scott Johnson. “These things are roosting in the trees and squawking at 2, 3, 4 in the morning.”
Though the feral birds technically are not anyone’s property – at least, no one seems willing to claim them as long as they’re considered a nuisance – the county first had to figure out if they had any authority to take action, Johnson said.
What they’ve found is a law that applies to “livestock at large,” enabling the sheriff to take a role in thinning the flock.
Obviously, the easiest way to do that is to just kill the wild birds. But having seen the hysterical reaction in other areas of the country over such things as eradicating nuisance pigeons, county officials don’t have the stomach to go that route.
(If our pioneering forefathers had been so squeamish, we’d still be living on the sea-shore and begging Indians for maize.)
In any event, Johnson said, the county plans to acquire the appropriate equipment for humanely capturing the birds. Using Animal Services personnel, they hope to trap at least half of the estimated 50 or so peafowl, and then ship them off to willing refuges.
It won’t happen overnight. But considering the birds have been there longer than most of the people, no one should complain if it takes a little while to evict them.