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Woman who killed peacock says she ‘just lost it’

Nelson Daranciang
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A woman says she set out to shoo peacocks away, but when one held its ground, she attacked.

The woman on trial for killing a peacock with a baseball bat testified that she had not had a good night’s sleep for months because of constant squawking from peacocks outside her condominium.

Sandra Maloney, 70, is charged with second-degree cruelty to animals for killing a peacock outside her Makaha Valley Towers home on May 17, 2009. The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and $2,000 fine.

Maloney took the stand in her own defense yesterday and said in 2009 the birds were the noisiest they had been since she and her husband moved to Makaha Valley five years earlier. They previously lived in a condominium near the ocean but moved because of the noise from kids playing at the beach.

She said the lack of sleep made her withdrawn and cranky.

"I got to the point where I didn’t want to go anywhere. I just wanted to stay in a hole," Maloney said.

On the morning she admits killing the peacock, she said she went outside to chase a particular bird that had been squawking in the parking lot. She said she never intended to kill any birds but found that chasing them with a baseball bat made her tired and was helpful in venting her frustration.

Maloney said she was able to shoo some away,  but one did not flee with the others. Instead it turned around and defecated in the barbecue, she said.  

"I just lost it. I never knew I could move so fast," she said in court.

Maloney said she grabbed the bird by the back, surprising herself and the bird. And while still holding the peacock, swung her bat at it missing on the first swing but connecting with its head on the second.

Believing the bird was dead, she said she carried it to the bushes nearby, even sweeping its tail out of the way so children wouldn’t see it or trip over it.

She said she intended to get something to conceal the bird in order to carry it to her condominium where she planned to cook it. 

But before she could go anywhere, a security guard stopped her and called police.

The trial continues today.

Monty Glover, a former resident and board member of neighboring Makaha Valley Plantation condominium, said his association has been killing peacocks since at least 2004 under permit from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. But he said the association has kept its actions quiet because of an outcry from peacock lovers. He said he has even received death threats.

The state stopped issuing permits in 2009 because it determined permits were not necessary to kill peafowl, said Jason Misaka, district biologist for the state’s Forestry and Wildlife Division. He said the state considers peafowl feral animals, not wildlife.

However, prior to the state reinterpreting its hunting rules, Maloney’s husband James applied for and received a permit to kill peafowl on July 1, 2009.

Mike Pitzler, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services said he has been contracted by the city to get rid of peafowl on city property, especially from botanical gardens. He said peafowl is an invasive species, introduced in Hawaii in 1860. And like another noisy invasive species, the coqui frog, "If they’re allowed to expand, they’re going to be in everybody’s back yard."


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