Peafowl is one of the most widely consumed birds in the state, said Matt Anderson, a Missouri State Parks spokesman.
“You have a lot of people who live close to waterfowl and they come up with a lot in their backyards and they put them in their yard and they go out and catch them,” Anderson said.
Anderson said Missouri peacock eggs and peafowls are among the top three eggs on the list of top 10 eggs sold in the United States.
Anderson says there are about 1,000 peafolks in the wild, but it’s rare to find one in Missouri.
“It’s rare for us to find it,” he said.
“If you come up and you see a bunch of them, you just think, ‘Oh, this is a little too big to be there.'”
Anderson said the peafolet is usually a young bird, but he said a young peafoul can become larger than the original.
Anderson also said peafouls have a distinctive pattern when they hatch, and sometimes that pattern can be spotted by people who don’t know what a peacock is.
Anderson didn’t say whether or not the peahens hatched in Missouri or whether they were brought in from another state.
But he said the state’s peacocks have long been a target of people trying to get them to hatch in the U.S. “People don’t realize that this is one the most popular species in the world, and that the American population has exploded since the 1960s,” Anderson told ABC News.
“We have to do something to try to get the population to come back.”
Anderson said he doesn’t know how much of a problem it is in Missouri, but said he’s heard reports that people are throwing peafollins from their cars onto the grass.
“I’ve seen a lot,” he added.
“This is one thing that can definitely get into people’s homes.”
The Peafoul Conservation Society says peafolk populations are still recovering after the peacock’s collapse in the 1950s.
In its 2010 annual report, the society said that “peafoul populations have been reduced from about 40 million in 1980 to about 6 million today.”
The group also said the decline is being driven by habitat loss, which it said has led to more bird mortality.
The decline is also being blamed on the decline of a variety of wildlife species, including the endangered red-legged mongoose, which is now found in Missouri only in the western part of the state.
The group said the population is “at a critical mass” and needs to be protected.
“Unfortunately, there is no good solution for this situation,” the report said.
The peafoulthes are found in the eastern part of Missouri, and the pealowl is found in both eastern and western Missouri.