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Arsenic May Have Killed 9 Peacocks

November 07, 1985|JUAN ARANCIBIA | Times Staff Writer

PALOS VERDES ESTATES — Nine peacocks, whose bodies contain high levels of arsenic, have been found dead in the last 10 days in an area where many residents have complained that the birds are too noisy and cause property damage.

Autopsies will be completed next week to determine what killed the birds, city officials said.

Police Chief Monte Newman said the first dead birds were found Oct. 28 in what residents call the "library area," an eight-block section near City Hall. The library area and the Espinosa Circle neighborhood each have flocks of about 30 peacocks, residents said. The last official count in the city found 67 peacocks.

In September, the City Council decided that peacocks could be trapped on residential property as long as the number of birds in the city did not fall below about 25. Friends of the Peacocks challenged that decision in court and the city agreed to prohibit trapping pending an environmental impact report.

Arsenic Found

Gar Goodson, a member of Friends of the Peacocks, said three of the dead birds were taken by his group to the California Department of Food and Agriculture Laboratory in San Bernardino, where an examiner Tuesday reported finding high levels of arsenic in the birds.

Seven peacocks, five dead and two extremely ill, were taken to the Los Angeles County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Preliminary findings show that all the birds had toxic levels of arsenic in them. The ninth dead bird was disposed of by a resident.

Sgt. Chuck Reed of the SPCA said the evidence so far is not enough to conclude that the birds were poisoned, because arsenic can be found in many household materials, such as insecticides, herbicides and paints.

Final results from the autopsies will take another week.

According to SPCA Lt. Fred Hill, it is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum six months in jail and $500 fine to willfully poison an animal.

If the birds were deliberately poisoned, the Friends of the Peacocks is offering a $500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the poisoner.

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