By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – This is a little caper we like to call “The Case of the Runaway Peacock.”
It was Monday, July 28. It was hot outside. The kind of heat that makes you want to turn up the air-conditioner another notch, look out the window, and complain about how hot it is outside.
Evening had settled over the city. It was quiet. Too quiet. The kind of uneasy quiet that makes you wonder why it’s so quiet.
I sat at my desk in the newsroom pounding the keys on my old Mac. I sipped on a warm glass of cranberry juice as the crackle of the police scanner punctuated the silence like a semi-colon in a sentence fragment.
Suddenly, my train of thought was derailed by the voice of the police dispatcher. “Watch his tail,” he said. My ears perked up and I bit down hard on the stick of my Tootsie Roll® Pop.
Something was up. I looked at the clock. The big hand was on the six and the little hand was on the five. But, no time to figure that out now. I grabbed my camera and headed out.
I arrived at the scene on Central Street. I eased my sporty Saturn into the parking lot in front of the old grocery store. The fuzzy dice hanging on my rear-view mirror swung back and forth as I braked to a stop.
Officer Steve Story, was already trailing the subject headed north. Story has seen a lot in his police career, but this was his first attempt at peacock wrangling.
This cocky bird’s days of roaming free on the streets of Water Valley were about to end. The same kind of end that an editor puts to a bad chunk of prose.
Back To Reality
Police, animal control and some helpful civilians teamed up Monday afternoon to capture a peacock that had escaped from its pen on Fly Street. Police began following the bird about 6:30 p.m. after it was spotted on South Court Street near City Park.
Officer Story kept his police car between the bird and the street to keep it away from traffic. As the peacock walked north on Central Street, police contacted animal control officer William Beard who said that he consulted the Internet to see if he could find information on how to catch a peacock.
The bird had made it to the Myers Street area by the time Beard arrived. Because of the unusual nature of the situation, the animal control officer had the dispatcher call the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission and Nancy Fachman, a wildlife rehabilitator. The concern by Beard and police was how to capture the bird without injuring it.
The peacock continued to move north and eventually strolled through several yards on Lafayette Street. It was cornered in the back yard of 108 Lafayette where Story was able to corral the bird in a small, fenced in area.
Beard placed a large cage used for transporting dogs at the entrance to the area and tried to entice the bird into the cage with some dog food, the only edibles on hand. Officer John Hernandez joined the hunt and suggested using some yellow “Police Line” tape to pull the door of the cage closed.
Jessie Gurner, wife of Herald reporter Jack Gurner, arrived on the scene with a loaf of bread and began tossing bits of bread to the peacock. The bread trick almost worked as the bird entered the cage several times, but quickly exited after snatching the food.
Beard then contacted Lisa Murrell who had experience with peacocks and she volunteered to help capture the bird. Murrell entered the fenced area and after a brief wrestling match had the bird in hand.
The peacock was taken to its owner, Mable Freeman of 291 Fly Street, who told Beard and Story that it was last seen Saturday when a neighbor tried to catch it.
The peacock is one of five owned by Freeman who said that she wanted some pets when she retired from Mott’s Inc, a poultry processing plant. She also owns four hens, three turkeys, three geese, a duck, and a rooster.
No charges were filed and no one – man or bird – was injured. However Beard did get splattered with what is believed to be peacock poo during the incident. “All in a day’s work,” he commented.
Lt. Rick McCuan of the Water Valley Police Department reported the following law enforcement activity within the Water Valley City limits during the past week:
• Made two arrests for driving under suspension;
• Made two arrests on grand jury warrants;
• Made an arrest on a felony charge of intimidating a witness;
• Took a report of an armed robbery of an individual which occurred Wednesday on Martin Street;
• Took a report of a petty larceny of a air conditioner from a residence on Jones Street;
• Took a report of a petty larceny with a warrant issued;
• Took a report of a petty larceny of gas;
• Took a report of an accident;
• Took a report of a malicious mischief;
• Took a report of providing alcohol to a minor;
• Took a report of telephone profanity;
• Issue a citation for a dog running at large;
• Issue 51 traffic citations;
• Investigated one vehicle crash.