Posted: Palos Verdes News. Thursday, February 19, 2015 6:07 pm | Updated: 6:31 pm, Fri Feb 20, 2015.
Rancho Palos Verdes officials approved a $34,115 contract Tuesday to begin trapping the city’s surging peafowl population in five neighborhoods this summer.
Wildlife Services, a Simi Valley-based trapper used by the city in the past, will set up cages in the backyards of willing residents in the Portuguese Bend, Vista Grande, Crestridge, Sunnyside Ridge and Monte Verde areas between July 2015 and April 2016 to catch and relocate 150 peafowl, though that number could be just a starting point.
The plan is a response to a census conducted last year that found the number of peafowl in four of those neighborhoods more than doubled — from 125 to 285 — between June and October. Residents have increasingly complained about the birds ruining their gardens, waking them up in the middle of the night screeching and defecating on their driveways, especially in the Vista Grande neighborhood.
A century after Frank Vanderlip Sr. brought the birds to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, they have become a love-or-hate presence among residents.
Feeding peafowl and tampering with traps is illegal in RPV. Earlier this month, two more peafowl were found dead in Rolling Hills Estates, where one person is believed to be behind more than 50 killings since 2012. They were the first to take place since authorities released a sketch of the suspect over the summer.
Seventy-one peafowl were relocated to a ranch near Lancaster the last time RPV did trapping five years ago, but this time, officials want to take a more aggressive approach.
At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Councilman Anthony Misetich suggested trapping more than the 150 peafowl outlined in the contract if it isn’t enough. The trapper’s rate is $175 per bird.
“My question is, are we going to cease at 150 and call it a day?” he said, asking what would happen if 150 were trapped in the first two or three months of the contract period. “I think we need to continue as aggressively as we can to humanely remove these birds and remove this nuisance from our residents’ neighborhoods.”
Deputy Community Development Director Ara Mihranian said the contract could be amended if deemed necessary. The birds will be adopted to homes outside of the Peninsula, though their locations will be not be disclosed due to privacy concerns.
Councilman Brian Campbell said that leaving a wedding reception with his family over the weekend, he and his children counted 53 peafowl as they drove six blocks to Hawthorne Boulevard from a neighborhood near Hesse Park.
“I was absolutely stunned. I thought we’d see a couple or something, but they were everywhere. One yard had 15,” he said. “I’m just concerned whether, for the money, [the trapping] is going to have any noticeable impact.”
In addition to the traps, which attract peafowl with bait and can fit six to eight birds, the city might also consider a technique recommended by the trapper known as “candling,” which uses light from a high intensity flashlight to view the development of embryos in eggs.
Eggs that are near hatching are left alone, while those containing only yolk are removed.
The plans will go before the public at a meeting soliciting input in May.
RPV may also explore adopting a longterm peafowl management plan similar to that in Palos Verdes Estates, which maintains a certain number of peafowl in two designated flocks in Malaga Cove and Lunada Bay, conducting two counts a year.
Excess birds are trapped and relocated via adoption.