Kip O’Neill hears the peacocks stomping on the roof of her Longbeach Village home every morning. When she takes a quick trip to Publix, she returns to find that peacocks have torn up her plants. And, recently, when she went to her neighborhood book club discussion, participants had to use a side entrance because the peacocks had left behind droppings near the front of the house.
“It’s hard to live like this when every day there’s something peacock-related,” she said.
Although the peacocks are controversial — some residents love them, while others hate them — many Village residents say that the current system for removal, for which the town gives the Longbeach Village Association money, most recently $2,400 last March, to hire a company to remove the birds, doesn’t work.
Former Longboat Key Town Commissioner Gene Jaleski, who worked to bring the peacock issue to the commission’s attention two years ago, said that he counted at least 20 female peacocks on a recent walk down Broadway and estimates that the Village is home to about two-dozen females and 20 to 30 males.
And he worries that because spring is mating season, the population will explode, because each female can hatch six chicks each season — and that could result in a higher bill for taxpayers.
“The situation the town created didn’t work,” said Jaleski, noting that the current system has essentially left one person in charge of removal.
Michael Drake, who, as president of the Longbeach Village Association, is often in charge of arranging the peacock removal, said that he wants to change the town’s ordinance so that peacock removal is a town responsibility.
“The problem is that, because it’s in our neighborhood, the town has always taken the position that we have to be the ringmaster,” Drake said.
Drake said that a peacock roundup to relocate the birds will occur in the next couple of months. But he said that the peacock problem is too often thought of as a Village problem, rather than a town problem.
“If this were in Country Club Shores, believe me, the president would not be the steward of removing the peacocks,” he said.
Contact Robin Hartill at firstname.lastname@example.org