SURREY, B.C. — The felling of a favoured peacock perch in a Surrey, B.C., neighbourhood has exposed a divide between locals who like the beautiful birds and those frustrated with the noise, mess and property damage.
Residents said the feral peacocks have been a part of the neighbourhood since it was built over a decade ago, and despite pleas to politicians and animal protection the problem has only multiplied.
Local resident Parm Brar said he has spent years trying to get the city and his local member of the legislature to do something about the birds without success.
Brar said he was fined for not getting a permit when, out of frustration, he had a tree where the peacocks perch cut down.
"The last four years, I've tried with the city from every possible angle," he said in an interview outside his house.
Brar said he spoke with the mayor of Surrey in an attempt to find a solution "for the birds so everybody's happy, rather than upsetting the neighbourhood. We're divided here."
He said he also approached his local legislature member to help with the peacock problem, who suggested getting a petition signed by neighbours.
"I got 25 people to sign the petition and they didn't move a thing," he said.
Julie, who would only give her first name, said she lives just down the block from Brar and has similar problems with peacocks that use another tree to roost.
"You couldn't sleep. When my kids were babies and toddlers, they woke them up all the time," she said. "Even though this tree was down half a block you had to close the windows at night because of the noise."
She said she doesn't necessarily agree with Brar's decision to cut down the tree, but she blames the city for not acting when a previous owner who had a hobby farm next door to Brar left without taking the birds.
Brar estimated over three dozen of the birds were regular visitors to his yard, deck and roof, but it's unclear how many peacocks live in the subdivision.
Julie said people in the neighbourhood asked the city and the SPCA to address the issue 11 years ago, and even approached Art Knapp Garden Centres to adopt the animals, but to no avail.
Shawneen Esson, the assistant manager at Art Knapp in Surrey, said she spoke to the farmer who once owned the property and he told her he had to leave behind the birds that couldn't be caught.
No one from the City of Surrey responded to a request for an interview, but in an email sent to Brar almost a year ago, an official said the city was working to find a "quick resolution" to what was described as "a complicated situation."
Sara DuBois, the chief scientific officer with the SPCA, said it isn't the contractor for animal control in the city so there is little it can do.
"Well, these animals have been there for a very long time but if the neighbourhood has decided and petitions the city to move them, they could be relocated to a hobby farm that has sufficient size for them."
DuBois said they have heard similar complaints from the neighbourhood over the years, including from one resident who couldn't use their front door because the birds had nested on the front stoop.
Patrick Brownell has lived in the neighbourhood for four years and said the peacocks don't bother him.
"They've been drawing a lot of attention. People drive by and stop and pull over their cars, and take pictures," he said while walking his two English bull terriers.
"There's been no real problems with the peacocks other than the mess they make on the grass, and the roofs of the houses and cars."
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