Goa seeks to classify peacock as vermin

A peacock opens its feathers in a cage in the Nehru Zoological Park in Hyderabad on June 9, 2011Image copyright
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Peacocks are a nuisance, farmers in Goa say

An Indian state has proposed reclassifying the country’s national bird – the peacock – as vermin, local media report.

Goa’s Agriculture Minister Ramesh Tawadkar said peacocks were damaging crops and could be culled.

Monkeys, wild boars and wild bison, Goa’s state animal, would also be culled under the plans.

Shrinking forest cover in Goa has left less space for wildlife, which is encroaching on human habitat.

Mr Tawadkar said a committee had been formed to assess the peacocks’ impact, along with that of the other animals.

“Some farmers said that peacocks also were damaging their crops in fields in hilly areas,” he told Indian news agency IANS.

The birds are currently protected under India’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.

The minister said he was aware of the peacock’s status but insisted the government would follow a procedure whereby the bird could also be classified as a nuisance.

Animal rights groups have opposed the plans.

“If Goa wants to remain on the tourist map, people expect it to be a paradise for animals too,” said Poorva Joshipura from PETA India.

Last month Goa’s state government sparked outrage when it reclassified the coconut tree, which previously had protected status, as a palm because it does not have branches.

Officials said the move was necessary to make it easier to fell “economically unviable” and dangerous trees.

But environmentalists fear large numbers of coconut trees could now be removed to make way for development.

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