MIAMI – The solution to Miami’s polarizing peacock problem could be a man known as Mr. Peacock who has generously offered to adopt the unwanted birds at his four-acre farm in Iowa corn country.
Dennis Fett and his wife, Debra Joan Buck, keep up to 250 peafowl on their property, so the squawking, pooping, car-scratching habits of the birds that drive Miami residents crazy don’t bother them. Fett and Buck run the Peacock Information Center, write books such as “The Wacky World of Peafowl,” compose songs and produce videos about them.
They understand how peacocks are ruffling feathers with the discovery in Coconut Grove — ground zero for the peafowl wars — of several peahens mortally wounded by BB gun pellets. They have consulted on conflicts in New York, Hawaii, California, Tampa and at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles.
Not only is peafowl murder against the law in Miami-Dade County, but it isn’t going to eradicate the birds.
“I know it’s a hot, emotional issue between peacock lovers and peacock haters,” said Fett, a retired clarinet player and music teacher. “But if you’re mad and want to kill them, they’ll sense that, hide and move. They’re resilient. They’re obstinate. If you study them you’ll find they’re like people. One reason humans don’t like them is because they reflect human behavior.”
Fett is willing to conduct educational seminars in Miami. He recommends learning how to control the population and coexisting with the beautiful but very loud birds. He’s also willing to show people how to safely catch, box and ship — by Priority Express, with a nutrition gel pack — peafowl and peachicks to his place in Minden, Iowa, where they will no longer be treated as pariahs.
He’s confident he can find loving homes for them.
The only things more confounding than peafowl are the laws regulating them. To animal advocates, the iridescent birds are a treasured representative of what makes Miami exotic. To those who loathe them, the feathered invader is a nuisance representative of what makes Miami annoying.
While some residents believe it is their right to get rid of peafowl that damage private property by eating plants, defecating on walkways, tearing screens and pecking at roofs, a county law protects peafowl. In Miami, the city’s code declares the city a bird sanctuary and makes it “unlawful for any person to shoot, trap or in any manner kill or destroy birds within the city.”
Peafowl are native to India and Sri Lanka but aren’t considered invasive species. Florida classifies them as domestic livestock, along with cattle, pigs, chickens and sheep.