Peacocks homeless after Surrey homeowner fells nesting tree
Published Tuesday, May 1, 2018 2:53PM PDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 1, 2018 7:14PM PDT
A homeowner in Surrey is facing a $1,000 fine after illegally cutting down a tree in which a group of peacocks have been nesting for more than a decade.
Surrey's manager of public safety operations called the property owner's actions "very reckless" and said bylaw officers are investigating.
"The homeowner got the fine for illegally removing the tree," Jas Rehal told CTV News Tuesday, a day after the felling. "It’s a big tree and we take illegal tree cutting here very seriously."
According to Rehal, homeowner Parm Brar and the contractor who removed the tree could face up to $10,000 in penalties.
Brar said he knows what he did is against bylaws, but had no other choice because the city wouldn’t take action to remove the birds from the neighbourhood.
"Forty-plus peacocks were going up on my roof every night and they were going into the tree," he told CTV News. "Their noise—it's mating season—they go crazy and you can't even sleep at night."
Some 150 peafowl have been living in Sullivan Heights for more than a decade. A resident used to farm the animals when the area was less developed. The farmer moved out and hundreds of homes were built, but the colourful birds have remained part of the neighbourhood's pecking order ever since.
News of the felling also ruffled some feathers among neighbours who said there must be a better way to remove peacocks from a property than cutting down a healthy tree.
"We love them. They're super exotic and they're everywhere," said Megan Morley, who lives nearby. "My son thinks they're really cool."
Rehal said Brar had previously inquired about removing the tree, but was told they were unlikely to get a permit.
"That individual has been in contact with us in the past and applied to have a permit for the removal and it was denied and explained why," he said. "It’s a very healthy tree."
One neighbour, however, defended the homeowner's actions, saying the city did nothing to get the peacock population under control despite years of complaints from residents.
"I've counted flocks of up to 40 of them. If there were 40 of something else walking around, it would be dealt with," said Ryan Cregg.
"Anytime they're disturbed, they start screaming. It sounds like a crying baby…I've never got through another night without being woken up by them."
The peacocks are also leaving droppings all over Sullivan Heights, he added.
Cregg said the problem is so bad that he's willing to help cover the cost of the fine as a thank you to Brar for taking action against the peafowl.
"I'd like to pay for it," he said. "I hate them that much."
But the BC SPCA's chief scientific officer said felling one tree is unlikely to change much.
"It's not going to persuade the peacocks to leave the neighbourhood," Sara DuBois said. "They're just going to find another tree to roost in or perhaps start roosting on someone's roof."
Rehal said the city will keep an eye on the well-being of the animals as it investigates Monday's incident.
In the meantime, DuBois said those living in Sullivan Heights should brace for backlash from the feathery residents themselves.
"This is just really a temporary inconvenience for the animals. They're going to be a bit frustrated that their favourite tree will be gone, but they will move on," she said.
"I think they're going to be a little bit louder than you'd like them to be for the next little while."
With files from CTV Vancouver's David Molko and Shannon Paterson
Cant cut down a tree without a permit. Surprised the city of surrey would allow it. That tree is old and very healthy looking. Over peacocks? What a weird story— Matt Man (@mattthemascot) May 1, 2018
This is deplorable. These animals have been here for decades, long before the homes were built. To cut down the tree in which they nest is selfish and cruel. We should honor and respect these unceded territories and this land upon which we make our homes. https://t.co/zeGvDDqCtJ— kulpreet singh (@kulpreetsingh) May 1, 2018