by GLORIA HILLARD
July 15, 2014 5:16 PM ET
Someone is killing the peacocks in Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.
The boisterous and colorful birds have been a part of this upscale community near Los Angeles for more than a century. In recent years, the birds have become a source of contention among neighbors — but the conflict has taken a dark turn.
The string of peacock killings is now at 50 over the past two years or so — 20 in the past six months alone — by pellet guns, shotguns, arrows and poison.
Detective James Dondis of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Lt. Cesar Perea of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are investigating the attacks. "The violent manner in which some of the birds are being killed is a big concern," Dondis says. Investigators have some suspects, he says.
It's nearly impossible to avoid seeing — or hearing — the peacocks in Rolling Hills Estates, often perched in trees or on fences, or walking on driveways or lawns in this equestrian neighborhood. The birds seem to know the houses that are peafowl friendly — like Eunice Berman's. Two stroll in her backyard. One is on her roof. Another is lounging in a tree.
"Right now is probably the loudest season we have of them, because it's mating season, and they're calling around to each other," she says.
Berman says car alarms, gardeners, vacuum cleaners and earthquakes can set the birds off. She loves the peacocks but admits not everyone feels the same way. "They're slow crossing the street. They tend to be a little bit messy, and they eat vegetable gardens and certain plants," she says.