POLICE have infuriated a community by threatening to "dispatch" beloved peacocks. 

Residents in Henfield were stunned to receive a letter from Sussex Police asking for help in finding the birds, which stated they might be killed if located. 

Officers say the fowl have been causing distress and inconvenience to some residents, damaging gardens and making excessive noise at all hours of the day.

The Argus:

But other residents say the peacocks, which have been roaming the area for more than a year, are loved by the community and are incensed at a letter which said they may be "humanely dispatched".

A police letter to residents said: "[We] are aware of several peacocks that have been roaming around Henfield, and at present are providing support in the capture of these birds.

"Peacocks are a NON NATIVE species and their existence in the wild of Sussex cannot continue, due to the potential impacts on our native wildlife."

The letter said the force's efforts were focused on trapping and rehoming the peacocks. 

The Argus:

However, it added: "We must advise that if this cannot be completed then human dispatch will be required.

"Please help locate the peacocks soon by letting us know where they are roosting, feeding, or otherwise adopting a regular location to be found."

Furious animal-lover and resident Tracey Collins said the peacocks have brought "so much happiness to our villagers" during lockdown. 

"This has really upset most of the village, most of the villagers love to get visits from them and feed them when they come into the garden.

"We feel we have to save them and would love for them to stay local and wander freely. Pheasants are allowed to do this so why can’t our peacocks?"

Sussex Police said they are investigating the "unlawful release of peafowl" into the countryside.

Sergeant Tom Carter, wildlife crime lead, said: "These particular birds have been causing damage to the native environment and nature for some time now. 

"They have also been causing distress and inconvenience to some people living in the area, damaging gardens and making excessive noise at all hours of the day.

"It is important that for their own safety and welfare, they are captured and removed to secure sanctuary. 

"We are in touch with someone who is happy to assist with this and offer the birds a safe home in the future and we are looking to achieve this as soon as possible."