MUMBAI • India's popular tourist state of Goa has ruffled a few feathers with its proposal to reclassify the national bird, the peacock, as vermin, making them easier to cull.
The move comes just weeks after Goa's legislative assembly caused similar consternation when it ruled that the resort state's coconut trees were not in fact trees, but palms.
"We have listed several wild species, including wild boar, monkey, wild bison (gaur) and peacock, as nuisance animals," Goa's Agriculture Minister, Mr Ramesh Tawadkar, told the Press Trust of India.
"These animals are creating a problem for farmers and are destroying their cultivation in rural areas," he said on Thursday.
The colourful peacock is India's national bird and is protected under the country's Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. But animal rights groups fear the Goa government's proposal to reclassify the peacock as a "nuisance animal" is intended to make it easier to cull the birds.
"Goa seems to be trying to... (have) India's national bird labelled this way so that they may be hunted and killed," Ms Poorva Joshipura, the CEO of Peta India, said. "If Goa wants to remain on the tourist map, people expect it to be a paradise for animals too."
Last month, opposition politicians in Goa reacted with outrage after the state government reclassified the coconut tree as a palm because it does not have any branches.
Officials said the move was necessary to make it easier to fell "economically unviable" and dangerous trees. But opponents fear coconut trees could be chopped down to make space for development.