MONMOUTH — The Monmouth City Council is scheduled to discuss peafowl at a Sept. 17 work session.
Councilor Laurel Sharmer requested the topic be added after someone brought it up during citizen comments at the Aug. 20 meeting.
“We have a long and glorious history of peacock management in Monmouth,” said Scott McClure, city manager. “It’s a tough issue.”
Peafowl roam freely in the area of Sacre Lane North and Olive Way East in Monmouth.
“I got to a point of frustration just for so many months of having to be woken up at night and in the morning that I started looking on the internet to find out what kind of things can I do,” said Monmouth resident Ryan Narce.
Narce also spoke to the council in April about the peacock noise.
“When I came here the first time, everyone was very empathetic and understanding, but ultimately it came down to, you know, ‘Rub some oil on the eggs,’” Narce said. “Turns out, that doesn’t work, by the way. It just annoys them.”
Narce said he knows the community is divided on the issue, but doesn’t believe the sides are equal.
“There’s the side where this is an actual nuisance and then there’s the side, where, ‘We really like looking at peacocks,’” he said. “I don’t think that they have equal weight here.”
Narce said he heard about two peacocks in Tigard who were euthanized by US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services last month. He said he contacted someone from that department.
“He was able, with his team, to successfully euthanize the creatures and have them out of there,” Narce said. “Did it cause some uproar? Of course it did, because there are so many people who are very fond of the creatures.”
Narce said the different institutions he checked with in hopes of finding a humane way to relocate the peafowl would not accept them.
The Portland Audubon Wildlife Care Center puts peacocks in the domestic and exotic category; they are domesticated animals that have either escaped or been abandoned.
They don’t accept injured peafowl.
There is at least one peacock with an injured foot that regularly roams through Sacre Lane.
According to its website, the Wildlife Care Center doesn’t accept them because its permits don’t allow for that; they have limited resources, and exotic and non-native species are a threat to native species.
The Audubon Society says there are limited options to care for injured or orphaned non-native species.
“It is against Oregon law for you to care for it yourself or to have a veterinarian treat it,” the society’s site states. “In addition, caring for wild animals of any species requires specialized knowledge, skills, and equipment. Attempting to care for wild animals without these things results in serious consequences that can include the death of the animal, chronic illness and pain, and behaviors that endanger the animal or people it comes into contact with. Unfortunately, the kindest solution is humane euthanasia.”
While the Wildlife Care Center cannot treat these animals, it does “offer humane euthanasia for non-native animals,” according to its website.
“We do not enjoy performing this service, but we are committed to both animal welfare as well as environmental stewardship, and we feel the responsibility to provide an option that minimizes the suffering of these animals,” the site states.
Narce said he is probably the most vociferous complainer in his neighborhood about the peafowl noise issue.
“I’ve called the police I don’t know how many times just to lodge the noise complaint to make it known that it’s bad,” he said.
Monmouth Police Department Lt. Isaiah Haines said they get a handful of calls — usually from the same person or two.
The issue of peafowl in Monmouth has been talked about for at least 20 years or so, Haines said, but they are not regulated animals so no proposed solution has come to fruition.
Narce said he would like to have a forum for people to express opinions on either side of the peafowl issue.
“The city council should offer to anyone who is very pro-peacock and believes that they are just such a great addition to our neighborhood ... to offer them on the spot, ownership of the peacocks,” Narce said. “Just say, if you like them this much then would you please take ownership of them. Because currently, they’re not protected by animal cruelty laws. All the animal cruelty ordinances that I looked up on the Monmouth website explain that it pertains to a creature that’s being owned by someone.”
The peacock’s owner also would be held responsible for the animal’s noise, plant eating and defecation.
“Once we get everyone down here and predictably, no one agrees to take on the responsibility, they only want the right to the enjoyment of the animals, then we could perhaps move down that road and achieve an actual solution by contacting (the USDA Wildlife Services),” Narce said.
Mayor Cec Koontz told Narce she would have either McClure or Councilor Jon Carey contact him.
While Koontz was serious in her statement, councilors did engage in some banter on the topic.
“Just so you know, our Rotary Club is planning a wild game feed fundraiser for the spring,” Councilor Laurel Sharmer said to Narce.
“Meaning that they’re going to feed the peacocks,” he asked.
“No, no,” Sharmer joked. “If they taste like pheasant, we can put them on the table.”
“That’s what I’m talkin’ about right there,” Narce said. “Thank you Rotarians wherever you are.”