Peacocks in southern Florida could be pushed from their habitats after the Miami-Dade commission loosened a law protecting them. On Tuesday, the commission voted to allow cities to opt-out of a 20-year-old law protecting the peacocks. Still, the commission explained that cities can only do so if they find a safe way to move the animals.
Several neighborhoods have complained about the birds. “Mating season is when we get the most complaints. They get very aggressive. They lay their eggs, they build their nests, they peck the cars,” said sponsor Raquel Regalado, whose district includes areas in Miami and Coral Gables.
Currently, the birds roam freely in several neighborhoods. Dealing with peacock-related havoc has led many locals to call for removing the birds. However, other residents want to protect the peacocks.
“In my district, we learn to live with these peacocks,” said Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins, representing Palmetto Bay. “They almost become a part of the community. I know our residents lose it when anyone harms any of these peacocks.”
Although Florida has laws to protect the birds, the state has some lax laws regarding animal welfare. For example, Florida permits killing iguanas and Burmese pythons, animals that most states protect. While Florida is a state that has a heavy wildlife presence, killing animals doesn’t solve all of the human-wildlife conflicts.
The state’s peacock problem is partly caused by the lack of sanctuaries for the birds. Additionally, laws on non-native species prevent locals from taking peacocks back to the wild. Under these circumstances, the birds must share space with humans, even in regions where they are seen as a nuisance.
“We searched statewide for a sanctuary or zoo that would accept them,” said Kathy Labrada, assistant director of Miami-Dade Animal Services. “The alternative is humane euthanasia.”
With the commissioners voting to loosen the peacock protection law, individual cities must now handle the birds. “This really is not about killing,” Regalado said. “This is about moving.”
Lead image via Pixabay