AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Peacocks have been a part of the Amelia Island landscape for the past fifty years.
"It is commonplace to walk out and see peacocks walking around the neighborhood," said Pam Bell.
Bell, a photographer, said yes the birds can be noisy at times and yes they may leave a mess in the area, but they are part of the community.
Several years ago, the county placed peacock crossing signs on Scott Road, an area where they gather.
"What has happened here is a whole population of birds," said Wade Bell, "have been wiped out."
No one has ever claimed ownership, not the county, not the community.
Recently, a couple of property owners, annoyed by the birds, hired a private trapper to catch and remove the peacocks.
Nick Hartley istrapper and owner of'Krit R Done.'
"We were reluctant to take the job," he said.
Now he has become the target of complaints and criticism.
"It makes us upset that someone would take it upon themselves to remove the peacocks," said Bell.
Hartley said he has removed 29 peacocks. He said most have been relocated to a farm in Hilliard.
"Our customers had a legitimate complaint and hired us to remove the problem," said Hartley. "What she did is legal."
As for placing them back into the community, he said that would be against the law and he would have to be ordered to do so.
"They're considered invasive species," said Hartley, "It is actually a crime to drop them off in the streets."
The residents have started a petition drive, using social media and Facebook, in an effort to bring back the peacocks.
"He didn't have permission to take them away," said Pam Bell, "I don't know why he has to have permission to bring them back."
These residents believe the peacocks are an important part of their Amelia Island community.
"We want the birds back," said Pam Bell.
Nassau County Animal Control Director Joe Novello said there is no county ordinance addressing the issue. He said the fowls are wildlife and come under the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Karen Parker is with FWC.
"The peacocks cannot be released back into the community," said Parker, "It is against the law to release non native species inFlorida."
Parker said if someone wants to claim ownership of a bird, they can, but that means being liable for any damage it may cause and that means keeping the animal on their property.