Rise of the wild turkeys: US residents ‘terrorised’ as birds run riot across towns

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Nov 24, 2021, 09:19 PM(IST)

The wild turkeys were once extinct in north America. Photograph:( Agencies )

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Branded as the “bird of courage” by America’s founding father Benjamin Franklin in 1784, wild turkeys are vandalising homes, attacking people and causing havoc, earning their reputation as one of the most bad-tempered neighbours on the block

A conservation success story is now turning into a wildlife management disaster for several residents in United States as growing incident of wild turkeys attacking humans is being reported across the country.

Branded as the “bird of courage” by America’s founding father Benjamin Franklin in 1784, wild turkeys are vandalising homes, attacking people and causing havoc, earning their reputation as one of the most bad-tempered neighbours on the block.

In New Hampshire, a motorcyclist crashed after being assaulted. In New Jersey, a terrified postman rang 911 after a dozen birds attacked him at once. And in Michigan, one town armed public workers with pepper spray to scare off the birds, according to the Guardian.

In 2020, one of the most notorious offenders, a turkey called Gerald in Oakland, California, was relocated after he attacked more than 100 people in 12 months.

In Somerville, Massachusetts, last year, a large male nicknamed “Pat Cluck” or “Mayor Turkatone”, with a history of aggression, was euthanised by the state.

Frustrated with the rising menace, a local newspaper in New York, the Daily Messenger, published a sardonic report, calling it the “greatest threat to humans.”

 “We need to call out the militia, folks. This could be the greatest threat against humans and their civilization since Krakatau erupted. Wild turkey all over America are rioting, rising up in rebellion against the influx of people into their habitat.”

There are hundreds of urban conflicts reported each year, with some towns banning residents from feeding them, citing feeding as a catalyst.

The wild turkeys were once extinct in North America. In the 1930s, their numbers plummeted to 30,000 from 200,000 due to unregulated hunting and the clearing of forests for farmland by European settlers.

But thanks to unregulated hunting and the clearing of forests for farmland by European settlers, numbers plummeted to just 30,000 to 200,000 by the 1930s.

However, after massive campaigning in the 19th century by the conservationists, their population began to grow steadily.

By the early 2000s, numbers reached 7 million, with the US government estimating about 25,000 in Massachusetts, 20,000 in New Jersey, 40,000 in New Hampshire and 60,000 in Maine.

(With inputs from agencies)

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