Police called as Surrey neighbourhood's peacock dispute escalates
Bylaw officer allegedly assaulted after responding to report of resident feeding fowl
The dispute over peacocks in a Surrey neighbourhood escalated late Monday after police responded to reports that a bylaw officer on a bird-related call had allegedly been assaulted.
It's the latest twist in the saga of the controversial muster of peacocks populating the residential area around 150 Street and 62 Avenue.
The birds have been a mainstay for decades, but recently some residents have found their growing presence overwhelming.
The issue came to light in early May when a resident cut down a large tree that had served as a night roost for many of the birds.
According to city officials, there are up to 150 peacocks in the area. Some residents have complained the birds produce too much noise, droppings, and even attack cars and property.
Jas Rehal, Surrey's manager of bylaw enforcement, said a bylaw officer responded to a complaint on Monday night.
"We received a complaint that someone was feeding peacocks," Rehal said, noting you can receive a $250 fine for feeding the fowl.
"Once the officer was there investigated, he was assaulted by the property owner. He called the police."
Surrey RCMP confirmed multiple units responded to the call, as is standard procedure when an officer is in distress.
'Someone's peacock hobby farm'
Neighbour Julie Cragg said she heard a bunch of sirens and came out to investigate.
"We saw about anywhere from six to seven squad cars and a fire truck. Shortly after an ambulance came, then we heard the choppers," Cragg said.
Neighbours say the property in question has a rather large feeding and housing shed for the peacocks.
Ryan Cragg said the property looks like a small hobby farm.
"This is not a bird feeder you pick up at Home Depot," he said.
"There's a rather large food source, and over on that side there's a water source as well. So ultimately we've got someone's peacock hobby farm, and it's a hobby they've been inflicting on the neighbourhood for the past 10 years."
But not all the neighbours mind the birds.
Lance Smart, who lives next to the house that generated the complaint, says everyone feeds the birds.
"They've been here over 40 years. This is their home [and] 95 per cent of the people love these birds … Where's the humanity? Where's the respect?" Smart said.
"There's nothing wrong with helping nature because nature needs a hand."
'Neighbours pitted against neighbours'
But Julie Cragg says the City of Surrey has dragged its feet for far too long on the issue, and now there are so many peacocks that it's even more difficult to come up with a solution.
"We've got neighbours pitted against neighbours. There's police involved now. It's so out of hand," she said.
Rehal says he understands there's a lot of passion and tension around the issue.
"We're urging everybody to stay calm," he said.
"We've committed to having a forum and it's taking longer than originally planned. We've reached out to experts and municipalities who have dealt with this before. We're just getting that information together."
Rehal said the bylaw officer is OK, if a bit shaken up.
With files from Rafferty Baker