LA County has a peacock problem

In the SoCal suburb of Sherman Oaks where this article was written, there’s a local hero who unites friend and foe. He’s been our mascot since the early days of the pandemic when fear, uncertainty, and isolation gripped our neighborhood. His name is Percival or "Percy" for short — a majestic peacock weighing about 12 pounds. And he’s somewhat famous, having earned a feature last year in the LA Times.

Percy’s never caused our neighborhood any trouble. But other LA enclaves haven’t been so lucky. Elsewhere, peafowl have become a local lightning rod; an issue almost as divisive as housing, homelessness, and dog poop.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors drafted an ordinance last week that would ban people from feeding birds like Percy (to my knowledge, no one in our neighborhood ever has). The motion is similar to an ordinance in Arcadia, which has had a large peacock population for years.

“People should not be feeding these peacocks, pure and simple,” LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger told the Washington Post. “Some of the people are coming from a good place. … But it’s not good for that population. And it is adding to the numbers that we’re seeing.”

Cities are cracking down too. Rancho Palos Verdes suspended its peacock-trapping program during the pandemic. It’s resuming it now that the population is out of control.

The explosion of peacocks in suburbs like mine is a problem for several reasons. They’re loud, they can damage cars, and they may spread Virulent Newcastle Disease. While not dangerous to humans, VND has already had serious impacts on the ecosystem and poultry industry.

To maintain quality of life and ensure the safety of wildlife, LA County and some of its cities have clearly decided it’s time to tame the peacock problem. Just don’t touch our Percy please. We love him.