The chief minister of India's popular tourist state of Goa moved to smooth ruffled feathers Saturday after a proposal to reclassify the national bird, the peacock, as vermin sparked an outcry.
Laxmikant Parsekar appeared to rule out including peacocks in a list of "nuisance animals" being drawn up by the state to make them easier to cull, according to the Press Trust of India.
After complaints the colourful birds were becoming a widespread menace in rural areas, the agriculture minister suggested including them in a list of vermin along with wild boar, bison and monkeys.
"I don't think it is included. It cannot be included in the list. It is a national bird," Parsekar, a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, was quoted by the news agency as saying.
"It does not damage the crop. Even if there are complaints, we can have measures to handle it," the chief minister said.
The peacock is India's national bird and is protected under the country's Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
Animal rights activists and opposition politicians had reacted with fury to the proposal.
Senior state Congress party leader Luizinho Faleiro branded the move "suicidal" and said that "killing (peacocks) is definitely not an option", PTI reported.