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State policy bars relocation of Koko Crater peafowl

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Question: Regarding the federal Wildlife Services killing peafowl at Koko Crater Botanical Garden ( Peacocks can be a challenge, but they are beautiful and also add a lovely, plaintive sound while roosting. We live in Pupukea on a lot of space with neighbors who would not mind a bit to have some peafowl around. Is there a number to call to adopt a few birds and save them from this euthanization policy? (Several other similar comments/requests received.)

Answer: No, according to Mike Pitzler, state director of Wildlife Services for Hawaii, Guam and the Pacific Islands.

That’s based on the policy of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which regulates wildlife in Hawaii.

The state considers peafowl domestic animals and "they do not want them transported and moved around the state" because they will breed and multiply and cause more problems, Pitzler said. "They don’t want them getting into the natural areas in the state, so they prefer we continue euthanizing them."

The problem is that peafowl are large and aggressive and will "get loose," he said. "They like territory and don’t do well just cooped up all the time."

Although Wildlife Services is a federal agency, it does not receive federal funds and does not respond to general public requests for help in dealing with wild animals.

Pitzler explained the agency was created by Congress in the late 1800s to deal with large predators in the western United States.

"In the last century or so, our program has developed into a lot more and our mandate is to protect human health and safety, to protect natural resources, to protect endangered species and to deal with nuisance wildlife (primarily when they inflict damage or harm humans)," Pitzler said.

A major public misunderstanding is the belief that Wildlife Services should respond to requests to remove nuisance animals: "I’m talking about neighborhoods calling us on a regular basis."

But "we don’t just on our own accord or authority" or "indiscriminately" remove animals, Pitzler said. "We have to be under contract."

That’s because "we’re an interesting federal program" that operates on "cooperative funding," by contract.

"In other words, every single employee I have between here and Guam (including 60-plus on Guam working to control brown tree snakes) … is paid by someone else."


Question: Regarding the 18 peafowl captured at Koko Crater, how many other (species) has Wildlife Services killed to date?

Answer: At Koko Crater, only the peafowl have been euthanized, Pitzler said.

You can get information about all the animals euthanized by Wildlife Services, nationwide and state-by-state, on the website

Click on "wildlife damage maintenance," then "program data reports." Click on the year (2008 is the latest available), then scroll down to "animals dispersed / killed or euthanized / freed" (click on the pie chart) and click on "killed or euthanized reports."

Question: I understand, sort of, the reasoning behind eliminating the peacocks. But what exactly is "humanely euthanized?"

Answer: Nationwide, Wildlife Services follows guidelines set by the American Veterinary Medical Association, which allow death either by carbon monoxide or a shot in the head.

In Hawaii, both methods are used, Pitzler said.

Write to "Kokua Line" at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail.


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