Foul play suspected in peacock deaths

Cape Canaveral residents fear someone could be shooting birds


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – All the fowl foreplay in Ocean Woods may have led to some foul play.

Some in this small gated community fear all the incessant peacock mating calls, droppings and other annoyances may have driven someone to intentionally kill several of the birds so many others adore.

"We've never had anything like this," Jody Ballard, who lives on Ilex Court, ground zero for several suspicious peacock deaths, told Local 6 News partner Florida Today.

Residents estimate 10 peacocks in Ocean Woods have died in the past three weeks. They say they've heard the "pop-pop-pop" of gunshots in the middle of the day and witnessed peacocks that appear to have been poisoned.

Brevard deputies could not confirm Tuesday if any peacocks had been shot or poisoned in the neighborhood but are investigating whether state animal cruelty laws may have been broken.

"The Brevard County Sheriff's Office has only observed two dead birds," said Lt. Alex Herrera, a Sheriff's Office spokesman.  "Only one appeared to be foul play, suspicious in nature."

But what exactly caused the bird deaths remains unknown at this point, Herrera said.

"All we have is a lot of conjecture and people saying there was a lot of dead birds," he said.  "We are actively looking into it. If there is more that comes about relative to this issue, then we'll continue to go forward with it."

The Sheriff's Office has received calls about pellets or bullets in the birds and accusations of poisonings.

A deputy responded on April 12 to reports of two peacocks having been shot out of a tree at the 8700 block of Ilex Court, according to the Sheriff's Office case report. The deputy found a dead peacock in the front yard of a residence, after the bird had been removed from the roof of a neighboring house.

"The peacock had several injuries on it that appeared to be gunshot or pellet wounds," the report said.

Wilma Evans, who lives on Ilex Court, examined a dead peacock with a wound under its wing.

"I could put my finger in the hole," Evans said.

She and neighbor Ginny DiMondo said they ran a metal detector over one of the dead peacocks that seemed to confirm a bullet or pellet inside.

"A majority of Ocean Woods loves the peacocks, DiMondo said.

Ocean Woods' homeowner's association planned to discuss the peacock issue at its meeting Tuesday night.

"What happens if a pellet ricochets? We're concerned about what kind of people we have in here," DiMondo said.

Residents say some in the neighborhood have tired of the birds' -- no one's sure how many live here -- loud calls, which persist late into the night and early in the morning. Car enthusiasts might not like all their pecking of their own reflections on car bumpers.

Peacocks have caused similar aggravations recently in Cocoa Beach.

Earlier this month, Cocoa Beach negotiated peacock flock-thinning operation after fed-up residents complained that up to 50 of the birds were ruining screen enclosures, scratching truck paint, munching landscaping and dumping noxious droppings.

DiMondo sees the peacocks as a beautiful asset to her community. The peacocks have been a fixture on roofs, yards and streets there for years, as long as many can remember.

"They are a living animal," said DiMondo, who's been in Ocean Woods nine years. "They have been here before us."