British Columbia

Officials turning their backs on Surrey peacock problem, residents say

Residents who are fed up with a large group of peacocks in Surrey's Sullivan Heights area say the city is passing the buck and needs to step in to get the growing peafowl population under control.

Some in Sullivan Heights say they've been complaining about roaming fowl for years

A peacock in a Surrey backyard spreads its feathers. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Residents who are fed up with a large group of peacocks in Surrey's Sullivan Heights area say the city is passing the buck and needs to step in to get the growing peafowl population under control.

The birds — which number anywhere from 40 to 150 — are welcomed by some neighbours, but many of the residents most affected by the peacocks right around 150 Street and 62 Avenue say they've been complaining to officials for years, and the problem has only gotten worse.

The issue reached a boiling point this week when Parminder Brar had a large tree cut down in his yard. Brar said about 40 peafowl were using the tree to roost each night. He now faces a $1,000 fine from the City of Surrey for cutting the tree down without a permit.

Some Sullivan heights residents adore the majestic peacocks living in their neighbourhood, but others are frustrated and stressed out by what they see as a nuisance. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Brar said he had meetings about the birds and the tree with Surrey's manager of bylaw enforcement, Jas Rehal, but a permit to fell the tree was turned down and nothing was done about the birds.

Brar said he was just pushed to the edge after getting the runaround from the city.

According to Rehal, responsibility over the feral peacocks falls into a grey area. 

"We at the city and our animal control, this falls outside our scope of responsibility," he said.

Jas Rehal, Surrey's manager of bylaw enforcement, says the peacock population in Sullivan Heights isn't something the city's animal control department can deal with. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service declined to comment on the issue, saying peacocks aren't defined as wildlife.

Sara Dubois, the chief scientific officer with the B.C. SPCA, said the organization has been hearing about the Sullivan Heights peafowl muster for years.

She said it started when a hobby farmer raised the peacocks in the neighbourhood, before suburban development changed the community.

There are conflicting stories about how the birds got loose.

"It is not a great situation, of course, for the homeowners, and ideally these peacocks would be in a safer environment, but they haven't taken any interest in going somewhere else," said Dubois. "As long as the community can coexist with them, I think it's safe for all."

A muster of 40-150 peafowl have overrun a Surrey neighbourhood near 150 Street and 62 Avenue, leading to complaints about their constant noise, excrement and damage to property. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Dubois said there isn't much that can be done, unless a hobby farmer in the region was willing to take the birds.

"These are feral domestic animals, so they are not a wild animal of concern that we would move for habitat purposes," she said. "This would be an issue for the city and animal control to undertake."

Rehal said the city tried to address the issue a few years ago, hiring a contractor to round some of the peacocks up.

"It did not end up so well," said Rehal, adding that he ran into strong opposition from some of the peacock supporters in the neighbourhood.

"The contractor was chased out of the area, so that contractor — it's still fresh in his mind. It's not something he's willing to do at this time."

Rehal said that, by and large, the city hears from more people in the area who support keeping the peacocks in the neighbourhood, but those closest to the roost tend to be very opposed to them.

"You know, I think the community is definitely split on the issue," he said.

Rehal said the only thing being planned to address the issue is a community meeting where experts can help educate neighbours about the peafowl.

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker

About the Author

Rafferty Baker is CBC Vancouver's mobile journalist. Follow him @raffertybaker