Waimea center sorry
for killing peacocks

A task force will be formed
to handle species populations

The director of the Waimea Valley Audubon Center has apologized for killing nine peacocks -- two by arrows -- two weeks ago, saying that the center made a mistake and regrets the decision.

"The problem was not handled the right way, and we will not be killing any more peacocks," said director Diana King.

The peacocks were killed July 20. Seven were trapped and killed by decapitation, and two were shot with bows and arrows by professional archers, when the birds could not be trapped. King said they opted for bows and arrows because it is illegal to use firearms on public property.

The Audubon Society contracts with the city to operate the park at Waimea Falls.

The decision to kill the peacocks was made by the center's conservation manager, Lance La Pierre, in response to the park's growing peacock population. La Pierre is on vacation this week and has been advised not to speak with the media.

The peacocks reportedly have also become a nuisance at the park, prompting complaints from patrons who say the birds scratch and peck at them and steal food from their plates.

But the nine peacocks that were killed were not specifically identified as the birds causing the problem, King said. The birds were killed at random to help control what she and La Pierre considered a too-large peacock population.

There are currently about 24 peacocks that live in the park. King acknowledged that the center's wildlife officials are unsure of how many peacocks should ideally live in the park, although thinning out the population was a factor in their decision to kill the birds.

She plans to consult with other experts to determine how many peacocks can live in the park without disrupting the ecosystem, and they will develop a population control method that is effective as well as humane.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Agency has the resources to handle unruly peacocks and will do so for a fee. But Mark Ono, the agency's district supervisor, said the Waimea Valley Audubon Center did not consult him about the peacock problem at the park.

King said she is working on establishing a joint task force that would help the center make decisions about species population control. The individual members that would make up the task force have not yet been determined, but they will include animal rights groups, she said.



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