These birds are all over the place. They're beautiful from a distance, but they're very loud and can do a lot of damage to cars. Doesn't justify bashing them with a bat, but they are a nuisance. Several years back a group of people tried to get the legislature to allow them to take them out with bows and arrows. Didn't pass. Makaha woman charged in peacock bashing enters no plea
By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer
Somebody is killing the peacocks of Makaha.
Eleven have been poisoned, shot or beaten to death in the past few weeks.
Sandra Maloney is accused of beating one of the birds to death with a baseball bat on May 17, and yesterday she appeared in Wai'anae District Court on charges of misdemeanor cruelty to an animal. She did not enter a plea.
However, she has acknowledged that she did it, in remarks to police and to a Honolulu TV news crew.
The Makaha Valley Towers resident said it was the mating call of the wild male peacocks that drove her to it. The birds' incessant loud cries deprived her of sleep, she said.
Friends and supporters defended her yesterday, depicting her as a decent, caring, community-minded person driven to desperation by the peacocks' constant screeching.
But other residents of the high-rise condominium said they were aghast at the brutality of what they saw and heard on May 17, describing the cries of the bird as it was being beaten and for nearly an hour afterward until it died.
They're also concerned about the rash of peacock killings.
"People are shocked," said resident Janet Powell.
Peacocks were introduced to Hawai'i around 1860, and have flourished in Makaha Valley since King Kamehameha V gave a flock to valley rancher Owen Jones Holt.
But today they have become a nuisance to some residents, from the loud mating cries to the droppings the birds leave behind.
The birds roam the whole area, but have been a particular friction point at Makaha Valley Towers.
In 2003, the nuisance factor led the board of directors there to sign a $4,000 contract with federal Wildlife Services to capture and euthanize up to three-quarters of the estimated five or six dozen wild peacocks.
The idea was to thin out the herd, said Ted Pond, vice president of the homeowners association at Makaha Valley Towers.
But the plan was canceled due to public outcry.
Now a person or people apparently has taken it upon themselves to thin out the peacock numbers.
City prosecutor Peter Carlisle, who has promised to vigorously pursue the case against Maloney, said she is not suspected in the deaths of the other peacocks.
"That's something that's separate and apart from this particular case," Carlisle said.
If convicted on the cruelty charge, Maloney faces up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
Judge Clyde Sumida issued a bench warrant for Maloney's arrest at 9:33 a.m. yesterday when she failed to appear. He withdrew the warrant after Maloney showed up at the courthouse at 11:05 a.m. and later told the judge she hadn't appeared earlier on the advice of her lawyer, who was also a no-show.
The judge continued the arraignment until June 19.
Outside the courtroom, Maloney was in no mood to make a statement.
"I don't want to talk to you," she told reporters. "I was convinced by somebody that they were going to present my side, and they just smeared me nationwide," she said, referring to an early TV report about the incident.
Maloney's side was presented yesterday by several longtime friends and supporters who handed out written statements at the courthouse.
"I have a suspicion that Ms. Sandra had momentarily gone berserk after many sleepless nights when she attacked the peacock," wrote Janice Henry, who was at the arraignment. "If she had to do it over, I know the incident would never have happened."
Meanwhile, at the Makaha Valley Towers, folks remained stunned by the entire peacock killing spree.
"The residents here are just plain disgusted," said Pond, the vice president of the homeowners association.
"It's sickening," said Mike Targgart, another board member.
Pond agrees the baseball-bat killing probably has no relation to the other peacock deaths. He said the peacock poisonings may not even be related to the two birds he said appeared to have been killed with a pellet gun.
But others aren't so sure. Targgart and Powell both point out that a couple of months ago someone poisoned to death a dozen feral cats around the property. So obviously someone's out to harm to wildlife around the Towers, they say.
On May 17, there was no question about the intent of the attack.
Witnesses heard the cries of the bird and saw it as it was being beaten in a picnic area. Then they saw Maloney carry the injured animal up a flight of concrete stairs and toss it in the bushes.
"You know the sad thing is the bird wasn't dead," Targgart said. "It came out of the bushes with a broken leg, a broken neck, a smashed-out eye. It took another 45 minutes to die. It fell down the stairs. It was pitiful."
Targgart confronted Maloney following the beating, even as she was being questioned by police.
"I said, 'Did somebody kill a peacock with a bat?' And she goes, 'Yeah, I did — and I'm going to kill some more, too.' And I said, 'What are you, crazy?' And she said, 'I'm sick of these big birds — I can't sleep at night.' "
a part of makaha
In addition to complaints of peacock mating noises, some residents have complained for years about peacock droppings on sidewalks and steps around the property. The statements of Maloney's supporters echoed those sentiments.
"I would think the owners of Makaha Valley Towers would want to control these foul fowls," wrote Maloney's friend, Virginia Hogue.
Powell is always quick to remind anyone within earshot that peacocks were a part of the valley landscape generations before the complainers were ever born.
Peacocks were introduced to Hawai'i around the time of the American Civil War, and soon became the darlings of Hawai'i's royalty. Princess Ka'iulani, heir to the throne, kept the exotic birds at 'Ainahau, the family's 10-acre garden estate in Waikiki. She became affectionately known as "The Princess of the Peacocks."
The animals flourished in the valley after the gift of King Kamehameha V.
Powell says the peacocks are part of the magical ambiance of the Towers.
"I love the sound," she said. "How can we be so lucky? It's nature. It's woods. It's terrific. And they're wonderful because they are so beautiful.
"Now, they are noisier in the spring and the fall, because I guess those are the mating seasons. But so what? And, occasionally, they're out with their tails spread open — and it's the most gorgeous thing."http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/20090530/NEWS01/905300332