Peacocks are an introduced species in New Zealand. As other introduced species like possums and stoats are brought under control the peacock population is exploding – the absence of predators, d’ye see?
A bird renowned around the world for its beauty has showed its ugly side by causing havoc on farms in New Zealand; eating crops, evading control efforts and driving landowners to distraction.
The jade and green peafowl, commonly known as the peacock, has become naturalised in New Zealand after what New Zealand Birds Online calls “benign neglect of birds kept for display”.
Preferring rugged and wild habitats, the peafowl has spread extensively around the warmer regions of the North Island, according to the Ornithological Society of New Zealand, and has also been recorded as far south as Christchurch and Dunedin.
But as the numbers of their natural predators such as possums, ferrets, stoats and rats drop due to nationwide control efforts, peacocks are becoming increasingly destructive. Many local farmers have also unwittingly planted feasts for peacocks; seeding fields of maize, corn and clover which is beloved by the animals.
There are sightings of 100, perhaps 150 of them, in some fields and pastures. Which would be, if the males are displaying, quite a right of course. But there is a solution:
Lay the peacock on its back, cut the skin across from the joint of one thigh to the joint of the other, and around the joints of each thigh, and peel the feathered skin from the thighs.
From that last cut, cut down to the vent, peel back the skin on both sides, and cut across the base of the ‘parson’s nose’, so that the tail and surrounding skin are separated from the carcass.
Turn the bird breast-down, ease the skin, tail and the rest up the back, cutting the inner ends of the pinions so that the wings remain part of the skin.
Pull the skin up the breast and neck, as if removing a stocking, until the neck is exposed up to the top vertebra. Cut through this, to separate the entire skin from the carcass. Dust the flesh side of the skin with cumin.
Draw the peacock through the vent, rinse, and dry with cloths.
Spit the peacock from the vent through the top of the breast (see Fig. 45), push one skewer through the breast, just below the wings and spit, and another through the thighs below the spit. Using twine, truss the neck vertically against a wooden or metal skewer, and the legs up as if the bird was sitting on a perch.
Roast or oven-bake at 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4, allowing 20 minutes per lb (450g), plus 20 minutes (or until tender).
There is that little interregnum between the ostentation in the fields and the roasting tray. One which does have an admitted problem, they learn if they’re being shot at. It appears to be necessary to have a go at them from 500 yards or so therefore. Or, presumably, use a silenced weapon. But then NZ is rather Boy Scout country isn’t it? Lots of outdoors types and it shouldn’t be that difficult to find good shots among them.
Still, the solution itself really is that simple. An excess of edible wildlife is best dealt with by eating the wildlife.