Nestled in a community in Monmouth, near Gentle Woods Park and Monmouth Elementary School lives a pride of peafowl. This spring and summer, about six new chicks have joined the group, bringing the total peafowl to about a dozen, give or take.
Peafowl have lived in Monmouth since the 1970s, according to local recollections. No one knows exactly how they got there — some say it was a peafowl farm that closed and left the animals in the area.
Monmouth legend has it that the population of the pride was kept under control by local raccoons until a disease affected the masked critters, severely decreasing their numbers.
The peafowl have raised a stink in this neighborhood before. Once, the city set traps and relocated the birds to outside city limits, where they can roam the countryside and pester — or bless, depending on point of view — the residents who live there.
Residents of the Gentle Woods neighborhood were split about losing their prized birds. Some were happy to see the numbers cut down; others were angry to lose peafowl residents.
Now the Monmouth city council will again be asked to address the issue, presented by a neighborhood resident who is disturbed by the loud noises the peafowl produce — particularly during the spring mating season. The complaining resident makes a valid point: The issue with the peafowl is between people who enjoy looking at these exotic, non-native creatures, and the fact that the birds present a nuisance.
The trick for the city is many animals could be considered to present a nuisance in city limits. This same area called a neighborhood meeting about a month ago to discuss what to do about skunks in the area. The result: Discovering the area is abundant with wildlife — deer, foxes, skunks, raccoons, coyotes.
One of the joys of living in rural Polk County is glimpsing wildlife on your daily commute, or while having a picnic in the park. We have spotted a wide variety of birds, rare albino deer — even cougars — within the confines of our cities.
Are the peafowl a nuisance? It depends on who you ask. Some residents don’t mind them perching on their vehicles and nesting in their yards. Others despise the very thought of them — not to mention their feces and sounds.
Is it the city’s responsibility to rid the neighborhood of them? No more than it is the city’s responsibility to regulate outdoor cats.