An opinion submitted by Irene Basore
Residents of Amelia Island met January 22, with Nassau County Attorney David Hallman and Nassau County Manager Ted Selby to discuss their rights in relation to a draft Bill Relating to Peafowl on the South End of Amelia Island, which was reviewed at a Nassau County Commissioner Meeting last night (January 21, 2014). The Bill (copy below) will now be turned over to the local state representatives, Janet Atkins and Aaron Bean as one of the agenda items at their delegation meeting on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. in the Nassau Board of County Commissioners meeting room. According to Mr. Hallman and Mr. Selby the County’s file on this issue is closed and they are no longer involved. It is a state issue.
A lot has been said about the Peacocks to date. Fifty years ago when they were introduced to this neighborhood on Amelia Island the terrain was very rural. Now there are four sub-divisions and many homes not part of any subdivision. The opponents to keeping the peacocks in their residential neighborhood on Amelia Island have remained silent in some part due to the threats received from the pro-peacocks advocates. Threating calls have been recorded with the local sheriff’s office by more than one resident and the trapper who received a threatening call against his children. I felt so bad for the trapper. He is a young man with a wife and small children. The pro-peacock advocates threatened, on their Facebook page (Amelia Island Peacocks), his livelihood, questioned his character, his right to remain a local resident and his level of intelligence.
There is no dispute by either side that the peacocks cause damage to personal property (even the pro-peacock advocates admitted in a public news airing and in the local paper that the birds do damage). Long-time residents who were finally fed up with the car damage, home damage and walking through peafowl poo, legally hired a trapper to remove the birds to a new home in a rural area. This proposed draft bill will eliminate the rights of the residents, in whatever area is designated under Section 1, to have the peacocks removed permanently from their neighborhood. Section 3, part 2 states we can remove them from our personal property; however, we cannot remove them from the area designated in Section 1. Which means, they will return to our personal property again and again if the area in Section 1 is defined narrowly to keep the ‘problem’ where it now exists.
My husband and I have lived here permanently for 11 years and have owned our home since 1992. We didn’t care one way or the other about the peacocks even 6 months ago because it wasn’t our problem as they seldom came onto our property. Now that there are over thirty of them, because they are multiplying exponentially and have no natural predators, they are roaming farther afield and have become our problem. Residents better take that into consideration, because if this Bill gets passed what you may not think is your problem today may very well be your problem tomorrow and you will have no recourse. Also, this Bill could set a precedent in the state. I have spoken with a realtor concerning the defect disclosure notification, which must be provided to a potential buyer, if there is a known problem that will affect the value of your property. It is possible that peacocks causing damage to personal property would fall into that category.
If, to make everyone happy some of the peacocks must remain in a residential neighborhood then let the individuals who do not mind having their personal property damaged take ownership of the birds and assume the responsibility and liability. Pen the birds and give the neighbors access to come and visit and feed them. Then we will all be smiling.
The rights the Jacksonville residents have (click here for news clip) to remove the birds will be taken away if this Bill passes the state house and senate depending on how the area in Section 1 is defined. Can they discriminate against just my neighborhood?
Draft copy of proposed bill:
A bill to be entitled
An act relating to Nassau County related to taking of peafowl on South Amelia Island; providing an effective date.
Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
Taking of Peafowl prohibited on South Amelia Island:
WHEREAS, the late Florida state Senator A.G. “Sandy” McArthur introduced peafowl onto Amelia Island more than fifty years ago on their expansive residential property located near the canopy drive on Buccaneer Trail; and
WHEREAS, the peacocks added a unique character to the neighborhood.
Section 1. It shall be unlawful for any person to take any peafowl within the areas described as __________________________.
Section 2. As used in this section, “take” means taking, attempting to take, hunting, molesting, capturing, or killing any peafowl, their nests or eggs, by any means, whether or not such actions result in obtaining possession of peafowl or their nests or eggs.
Section 3. Exceptions:
1. The prohibitions of this section shall not apply on property zoned for agricultural use and used for a bona fide agricultural purpose.
2. Nothing in this section shall prevent a property owner from removing peafowl from his or her own property in a manner that does not physically injure the peafowl so long as the peafowl are not removed from the area described in section 1 above.
Section 4. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.
Also see the corresponding video: FCN 7/9/2012 http://www.bing.com/videos/
Editor’s Note: Irene Basore and her husband Tom have owned their home off Scott Road on the south end of the island since 1992. He and his wife Irene moved to Amelia Island permanently in June 2003. Irene is the Director of Operations at the National Certification Commissioner for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine located in downtown Jacksonville.
January 23, 2014 4:53 p.m.