COCONUT GROVE, FLA. (WSVN) - - Peacocks in a South Florida neighborhood became the target of someone armed with a BB gun, and officials said at least one of the birds did not survive.
Coconut Grove is full of the non-native species, which were brought in years ago. But while the big birds have found comfort in this neighborhood, located off LeJeune Road and Lybyer Avenue, they are not safe.
Dr. Renata Schneider at the South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale said one of the shootings, earlier this month, was particularly cruel. “It wasn’t able to use its legs at all. It was completely paralyzed,” she said as she referred to one of the victims.
An X-ray shows a BB gun pellet inside a peahen that was rushed to the Wildlife Center. “It’s just really disappointing, and I feel that the wildlife has enough challenges out there to survive in this urban jungle environment,” said Schneider.
Neighbors said the peacocks and their female counterparts, peahens, stay in the trees at night, but during daytime hours, it’s a whole other story.
“In the mornings they’ll come around, down the street,” said Linda Palewitz, who has lived in the Grove for 30 years.
Despite their colorful plumage, some residents consider the exotic birds a costly nuisance.
“They park at 5 p.m. They have a happy hour in that tree, 15 of them,” said homeowner Lily Levison.
Concerned residents said the growing peacock population is causing expensive problems and making a major mess.
Levison showed 7News damage to her vehicle that, she said, was caused by the wandering birds. “All of that,” she said as she pointed to dents on the hood. “This is their favorite spot. They destroy the paint in my car. It cost me around $3,000 to repaint it.”
Light-colored bird droppings lay on the ground next to Levison’s SUV.
Vets at the Wildlife Center were unable to save the peahen. It was not its first shooting victim.
Back in June, a concerned homeowner called Miami Police after she heard gunshots and saw a bird fall from a tree. “I knew there was someone shooting at the birds,” she said.
The woman, who asked not to be identified or show her face on camera, shared pictures and filed a report with investigators in the hopes of catching the person who pulled the trigger and bring them to justice.
“I think they’re jerks,” said Palewitz.
People in other neighborhoods said they have been chased and attacked by the birds before, adding they are frustrated.
Palewitz said she understands why the peacocks may ruffle a few feathers, but she doesn’t mind because they’re part of nature.
“Certainly, if I had a Maserati, and I didn’t cover it, they will jump up on a car, and that could scratch it. I probably wouldn’t care for that too much,” she said, “but I think, for the most part, the people I know in the neighborhood, enjoy seeing them around.”
Despite her misgivings about these birds, Levison said, there is no doubt the shootings are acts of animal cruelty and should not go unpunished.
Animal control officials said they cannot, by law, relocate the exotic birds.
If you have any information on these shootings, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward.
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