“The job is simple … eliminate this bird.”
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is now investigating the alleged bird-murder-for-hire plot, which played out in the Azalea Heights community of McKinleyville, Calif.
The bird was shot in its breast and left to die on June 30, according to the Lost Coast Outpost, a local outlet that covers the community. Locals are now crying fowl over the apparent hit job, which they say was ordered by one bitter neighbour.
“It’s really sad because he probably suffered for at least two or three hours before he died, possibly more,” local resident Melissa Glass told the Los Angeles Times. Glass was among the first to find the bird dead.
The feral male peacock had been a fixture in the neighbourhood for several years, and was known by various names such as Mr. P, Azul or Peony.
The bird’s early-morning wakeup calls seemingly drove one local to contract a bird killer via Craigslist, according to the Lost Coast Outpost.
The publication captured a screenshot of a Craigslist ad — that has since been deleted — calling for the bird’s death on June 13.
The wanted ad featured a Google Maps snapshot of the neighbourhood, along with some crudely marked diagrams indicating the bird’s favourite spots.
“The job is simple,” the post read. “Get rid of a wild peacock that is disrupting our lives by any means necessary.”
The author of the post goes on to complain about the bird’s early-morning wakeup calls.
“The bird came here about 4 months ago, no one knows from where, and no one here owns it,” the author wrote. “Please contact me so we can form a strategy to eliminate this bird, and also to agree on how much you will be compensated.”
The poster has not been identified, but the user may have given away his or her address in the Google Maps image, which includes a “home” pin on Hewitt Road. While the post has been removed, the Lost Coast Outpost captured an image of the map before it disappeared.
Peacocks are not specifically protected under state law in California, but the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that it’s investigating the case.
“A potential suspect has been identified by deputies and a search warrant was served at a residence on Hewitt Road in relation to the investigation,” a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said. “No arrests have been made at this time. The crimes currently being investigated are animal cruelty and conspiracy to commit a crime.”
It’s unclear who might have actually carried out the hit or how much they were paid to kill the peacock.
Many in the neighbourhood are mourning the bird, which had become something of a local mascot over the years.
Glass says the peacock would often visit the chickens she keeps on her property. It was also a big hit with neighbours and postal workers who would stop to capture photos with it.
“He was working the scene. He knew he was charming,” she said. “He was just part of our life.”
Kelsey Radant says the bird was a big hit at Azalea Estates, a seniors-only mobile home in the area.
“It was a very communal peacock,” she told the Lost Coast Outpost. “It makes the rounds and says hi to everybody.”
Glass says the Craigslist poster is a neighbour with whom she’s had a falling out, and that he knew it would upset her to see the bird dead.
“If it was some old codger in the senior park with a gun, I would be upset and angry,” Glass told the L.A. Times. “But this feels so much more personal because of the prior history.”
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