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It wasn't long ago that Dunedin
was mostly forested and rural.
of our wild friends either get
pushed out or become 'urbanized'.
attics seem like
a cozy nesting place. Trash cans
and pet food are easy meals and
swimming pools are convenient
toilets and bathing spots.
harmless as their intentions may
be, some wildlife
can be extremely destructive
to your property.
Trapper Guy will come out and
the live animal
from your property and if possible,
I will fix the damage caused and
make preventative measures so
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proper wildlife control
we can co-exist with our wild
hour services are for emergencies
only. Live animal in a living
area where safety of the occupants
is in question is considered an
peacocks annoy some neighbors, thrill
By Tamara El-Khoury,
Times Staff Writer
In print: Saturday, April 26, 2008
DUNEDIN — Winifred Webb's
out-of-town guests laughed at her when
she suggested visiting the city's cemetery
as a tourist attraction.
"Then they get
out there, and their cameras just flash,
flash, flash," Webb said.
It's the peacocks. They've
lived in the cemetery and the surrounding
neighborhoods for decades.
Some residents say the
birds are beautiful, exotic creatures
that should be left alone. Others say
they are a nuisance, and they want them
off their property.
April typically brings
a spike in complaints. That's the height
of mating season, when the peacocks
become more aggressive. They attack
their reflections in car windows or
tire rims. They've pecked and scratched
people. They wander into nearby neighborhoods,
crash through pool screens, eat landscaping
and sound off their sharp call.
The city is dealing
with the complaints in three ways:
• City staff members
are putting together educational information
on how residents can keep peafowl off
• The city will enforce
an ordinance that forbids people from
feeding or doing other things that causes
nuisance birds and animals to congregate.
Signs about the ordinance will be put
up in and near the cemetery.
• A trapper hired by
the city will reduce the number of birds
by capturing some and relocating them
to farms or private property. The birds
will be removed if property owners give
the city permission to remove them.
About 20 property owners have signed
up. The birds will not be destroyed.
No one is sure how peafowl
came to the city in the first place,
said Harry Gross, assistant city manager.
The belief is that the flock started
with a pair brought to a nearby property
in the late 1940s.
At one point, as many
as 125 peafowl were thought to be living
in Dunedin. The city estimates the number
is about 40 now.
Because they are a non-native
species, the birds would have to be
relocated to a farm or private property.
Gross said he has heard from two people
willing to house the birds on their
Jeanne Blaine moved
into the Weathersfield neighborhood
19 years ago. About a half-dozen of
the birds lived in the nearby cemetery
then and didn't cause a problem. But
each year the birds multiplied. She
estimates there are 100 now. She has
found 15 on her screened porch at a
time, leaving hundreds of droppings.
The birds roam the neighborhood,
and their squawks keep some residents
up all night. Blaine said she doesn't
want the flock destroyed, just reduced
to a manageable amount.
"The whole situation,
I feel, has just gotten terribly out
of control, as do a lot of my neighbors,"
Blaine said in a phone interview. High-pitched
squawking was audible in the background.
The city has created
a zoo-like atmosphere by letting car-loads
of people come to the cemetery to feed
and chase the birds, Blaine said. Last
year, she and her neighbors hired a
trapper who caught about six birds.
But Susan Foote said
she loves the birds. Seeing one in her
yard makes her day. She thinks individual
property owners — not taxpayers — should
be responsible for hiring trappers.
"I hate to take
my money to pay to get rid of something
that I enjoy," she said.
On Thursday, Lynda Biegaj
brought her granddaughter, Keegan Lynn
Biegaj, 4, to the cemetery to feed the
peafowl. When the males weren't opening
their fans and flaunting their feathers
for indifferent hens, they ate hamster
food out of the little girl's hand.
For 23 years, Biegaj has visited the
birds, bringing first her children and
now her grandchildren.
"Most kids love
to go to the park and play on the swings.
They like to come here," she said
of her grandchildren.
Mary Sullivan of Rochester,
N.Y., was throwing bread crumbs and
taking pictures. She is visiting her
brother, who lives in Tarpon Springs.
"I think it's marvelous
the way they're free," she said.
Tamara El-Khoury can
be reached at (727)445-4181 or email@example.com.