Wild Turkey

A mature tom turkey feeds on fallen seeds beneath a bird feeder in Vermont. In Toms River, New Jersey, wild turkeys are reportedly “terrorizing humans.” One resident said “they go to attack you.”

First the werewolves came. Then we had to deal with the zombies. Now we have the attack of the wild turkeys.

OK, so the first two mentioned above are fiction. But reports coming out of a New Jersey community have it the wild turkeys there are really “going wild.”

Residents in Toms River, New Jersey, are telling news reporters alarming tales about wild turkeys on a rampage, birds that are “terrorizing humans.”

Not long before Thanksgiving — was this a conspiracy, a plan by turkeys who are avenging the fact we gobble up their timid, tasty cousins? — a New Jersey neighborhood experienced wild turkeys “breaking windows and pecking at cars.” Maybe it’s a case of karma, the revenge of the wild turkeys.

One local resident told a news reporter: “I can’t get out my door. Sometimes I can’t get out of my car. They go to attack you.”

Donna Scala told a reporter for a TV station that the wild birds are damaging property. “They’re pecking at our roofs,” she said. “Our brand-new vehicles? They’re pecking at our vehicles.”

Oh, the horrors!

Scala said she wants the birds to be “moved” to a different location, “hundreds of acres of property” where they could roam about.

Here is the voice of pure suburban ignorance, from a person who clearly does not understand wild turkeys are always on the move, seeking food. Maybe the good people of Toms River could capture and move these bad boys to the Green Mountain State. This I promise you: There would be a drastic change in their aberrant behavior.

Of course, the local animal-rights group just had to sound off on this. But, to be fair, I think they are onto something.

The executive director of the Monmouth County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals blames the attack of the turkeys on overdevelopment, telling a radio station the turkeys have lost their territory to humans. He also said he believes the turkeys are “harmless.”

To counter the vicious beasts, experts have recommended tactics including “making loud noises, opening and closing umbrellas and blocking reflective surfaces, since male turkeys can sometimes be aggressive toward their own reflections.”

Loud noises? Oh, I have a better option when it comes to “loud noises.” How about 3-inch, No. 5 shot in a 12-gauge shotgun? That would deliver both a loud noise and a deafening silence for these “turkeys gone wild.”

I could be wrong, but it seems to me the good folks in Toms River have a problem we, here in Vermont, do not have. That’s because, out in the woods the wild turkeys here, and this is no exaggeration, seem to vanish at the first sign of any movement they cannot identify. We hunt them during two seasons and, while I cannot say for certain this kind of turkey behavior has never occurred here, I doubt very much that it has.

The thing is, wild turkeys in Vermont and in other rural areas have grown very wary of humans. But even though they have a brain the size of a pea, they can adapt. And, boy, have they adapted in Toms River. I would bet my 12-gauge pump shotgun that in this area of Toms River, hunting is illegal and the birds have adapted to that.

Meanwhile, elsewhere across the country, wild turkeys have been raising havoc, and it all seems to occur in areas of heavy human populations. Just about every hostile incident involves offenders that all appear to be males of the species (remind you of any other notable species?), explained away by officials as toms showing their dominance.

One interesting aspect of this bizarre behavior (much of this can be viewed on YouTube in what is often hilarious footage) is the fact wild turkeys really seem to despise the U.S. Postal Service. Maybe it’s just a case of male belligerence focused on mail delivery. Who knows?

So, if you want to be “nice” to your wild turkey population and not hunt them, you can expect the dire consequences — wild turkeys gone wild.

Contact Dennis Jensen at d.jensen62@yahoo.com.

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