The RSPCA ACT has slammed a new government proposal to get rid of Canberra's feral peacock population as community opposition to the plan grows.
Writing to the government on Wednesday, chief executive Tammy Ven Dange rejected claims the animal welfare organisation was consulted on the draft management plan and said she was "disturbed" to have been informed by The Canberra Times of a new provision that would see peacocks that could not be rehomed put down.
The colourful peafowl colony has co-existed with locals in Narrabundah and Red Hill for almost 20 years. Locals say a stray peacock named Andrew (after the politician) moved to the area when a small animal park on Mugga Lane closed down.
In April, ACT authorities proposed an annual trapping program to stop the growing Canberra peafowl population before it spread any further, including to the nearby Red Hill reserve where it could pose a risk to native vegetation and other birds.
Stephen Alegria at Transport Canberra and City Services said the government had long been getting complaints about the birds, most relating to traffic safety concerns, noise (particularly during the breeding season), droppings and damage to property.
Acccording to the plan, "if there are no suitable re-homing options available the birds will be...humanely euthanised", with a view to eventually removing them entirely from the area.
"In preparing this plan, the ACT government consulted with a range of stakeholders including...the RSPCA, residents...[and] the management of St Aiden's Court Retirement Village," it said.
But Ms Ven Dange said the RSPCA had not seen the plan since 2016, and Uniting, which runs the retirement village, also could not recall being consulted.
"It’s really not appropriate to list RSPCA as being consulted," Ms Ven Dange said, noting the most significant change between versions involved euthanising "the entire population" of peafowl over the next five years if new homes could not be found.
"It's highly unlikely that all of these healthy birds could be rehomed in that timeframe," she said.
"After reviewing this document we do not believe there is sufficient evidence to support this approach."
Mr Alegria acknowledged the wording around consultation in the draft plan may have been "a misstep" but said the proposal was phrased with a view to how the final plan would look. Consultation had also been done with some residents on site at St Albian's who raised concerns about the birds.
"We have a very good relationship with the RSPCA," Mr Alegria said.
"Their submission...seems to make some very valid points and we'll take [those] on board."
The government has since been inundated with more than 150 public submissions on the plan, with a Facebook page and petition to "Save the Narrabundah peafowl" also attracting international attention.
"The depth of community feeling is more than we had anticipated and we're listening," Mr Alegria said.
While the plan said peafowl were known to carry disease, Ms Ven Dange said the RSPCA had cared for eight injured peafowl since 2007 and found no signs of disease. The government also confirmed it did not know of any cases involving Canberra's peafowl.
The majority of residents who spoke to Fairfax Media said they loved having the birds on their street, describing them as part of the community.
A small group of peafowl in Pialligo, whose origins are unclear, will also be included in the trapping program if its approved.
The draft is open for community consultation until June 8.
With Robyn Skea
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