Animal cruelty investigators continued their search this week for a driver responsible for fatally hitting a full-grown peacock with an SUV in Rolling Hills Estates last month, officials said.

At around 10 a.m. on Dec. 21, a white SUV traveling on Buckskin Lane struck the large bird on the roadway near the intersection of Dapplegray Lane, according to spcaLA officials. Witnesses told investigators that the driver did not make an effort to either slow down or otherwise prevent the collision, and did not stop driving after the bird was crushed under the vehicle.

"It's very unlikely it was accidental or distracted (driving)," said Capt. Cesar Perea of the spcaLA's Animal Cruelty Investigations.

Peafowl have been fixtures in the Palos Verdes Peninsula area for decades, but communities are divided: Some admire the colorful birds – with some residents even keeping them as pets – and others say they are a nuisance.

Since Perea began investigating peafowl incidents in June 2012, he said more than 60 of the birds have been killed in the Rolling Hills Estates area.

"There were a variety of ways they were killed," he said. "Some were run over, but I think the majority of birds killed in that series were mostly with cross-bow, BB guns, blunt force trauma and some of them were actually shot (by firearms)."

In addition to past tension from the community with the birds, Perea said he believes last month's collision with the peacock was intentional because the bird was hit near a stop sign at the intersection, which likely means the driver chose not to slow down for the intersection. The bird was crushed by the front and rear tires of the passenger side of the vehicle, he said.

The peacock was also very large and would've been hard to miss, Perea said.

"It just seems odd in a cul de sac like that," he said, "when you know birds are crossing the roadway, it's really concerning to see a bird at that size is being struck."

During a canvass of the neighborhood earlier this week to find more information, Perea said they found one person of interest whose vehicle matches the description of the suspect. But he said the investigation is ongoing.

Not everyone in the neighborhood has been cooperative with the investigation, Perea said. He said he was surprised when some people who may have surveillance footage of the incident were reluctant to share it with investigators.

"I could see why people would not like them there," Perea said. "But you still shouldn't allow or look the other way when someone else harms the birds."

Intentional cruelty to any animal can carry up to a three-year prison sentence or $20,000 fine, Perea said.

Anyone with information about this crime was asked to contacted spcaLA via its Animal Cruelty Tipline at 800-540-7722 or online animal cruelty reporting form at spcaLA.com.

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