Can You Kill a Peacock if He is an Annoying Pest?Posted by Stephanie Ulmer, Guest Blogger on March 4, 2011
Last month in Honolulu, Hawaii, Sandra Maloney (age 70) was acquitted by a jury at the end of her trial for second degree animal cruelty after she admitted to killing a peacock with a baseball bat. Maloney testified that she “just lost it” after enduring the roaming peacocks’ cries night after night. She stated that she initially loved the idea of the birds roaming free near her condominium tower in Makaha, just northwest of Honolulu. But that after years of hearing the birds cry and squawk, she just couldn’t take it any longer, claiming the noise caused her insomnia and restless nights. She also stated that she had decided to eat the bird after she killed it.
After the verdict, Ms. Maloney seemed defiant and unremorseful by telling KHON TV news she was elated by the decision and proclaiming that “I’m going to Disney World we’re going to have peacock soufflé.” Ms. Maloney added that she felt vindicated and that “I think it’s going to be open season on peacocks and it’s probably past time,” One has to wonder if the jurors knew Ms. Maloney’s true attitude if they would have been as forgiving of the 70-year-old in accepting her attorney’s attempts to paint her as a sleep deprived and sympathetic senior citizen.
MYfoxchicago.com reported that “A board member of a neighboring condominium testified that his association had been killing peacocks under permit from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources for years, but had kept it quiet because of an outcry from peacock lovers that had even resulted in death threats.” The report also included a partial statement by City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro, which said his office would "continue to vigorously prosecute cases of excessive cruelty to or ill-treatment of animals."
Under Hawaii Revised Statute § 711-1109(1)(c), “A person commits the offense of cruelty to animals in the second degree if the person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly… mutilates, poisons, or kills without need any animal other than insects, vermin, or other pests.” Apparently Maloney’s attorney was successful in arguing that the peacocks were pests, claiming that the birds are an “invasive species” and that they need to be controlled. While there is indeed widespread debate about how to handle the wild peacocks, bludgeoning them to death with a bat is not the answer.
Thankfully, to remedy this obvious animal cruelty loophole, a new bill, SB 1533, has been introduced in the Hawaii legislature to “clarify that peacocks are not included as pests for purposes of the law on cruelty to animals in the second degree.” It passed its first reading on January 28, 2011, and has been referred to committee, with a public hearing scheduled for February 10th, 2011. Here’s hoping that Hawaii will act fast to protect these beautiful, yet vocal animals.