Wild turkeys have been flocking to Staten Island for years, where residents are having to go out of their way to avoid encounters. Some residents are fed up, while others welcome the whimsy of the impromptu natural attraction. However, the differences of opinion are getting heated, as the city has begun rounding up masses of turkeys and having them slaughtered.
The solution appears to be the only one for now, as everything from setting off fireworks to unsuccessfully oiling to outside of eggs to prevent embryo development, has been tried and failed.
In August, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture captured some of the estimated 80 birds at a state-run psychiatric hospital and took them to be slaughtered, with state Department of Environmental Conservation approval, the droppings hit the fan, according to the AP, sparking outrage and protests from those who don’t want harm to come to the feral birds.
Reactions range from concern to sheer outrage.
“We don’t want to kill them. We just want them to leave us alone,” says Barbara Laing, who watched as at least 50 turkeys converged outside her house, to which her next door neighbor and sister added, “They really are a beautiful bird … but they ruined our property.”
“It’s a horrible thing. You take animals and just kill them? What kind of world are we living in?” says Joe McAllister, a local neighborhood association president.
McAllister joined dozens of people at an August protest against mass turkey slaughters.
The roundup happened again last month at the same psychiatric hospital because the flock was launching “attacks on patients, employees and visitors” and raising sanitation concerns among officials.
This reignited the debate, but people seemed a little more accepting, probably due to the destruction the birds have been responsible for over the past months, including droppings all over yards, devoured gardens, and not to mention the squawking of early morning mating sessions.
“If the birds can’t be released in the wild, “I would rather see them slaughtered than see them cause an automobile accident,” says Staten Island Borough President James Molinari. “They’re not made for a city.”
“It’s very interesting to watch them. It really is. You learn a lot from it,” Froese says, but “now it’s time for them to move out.”
Officials had hoped that the slaughtered, now-frozen birds could become a turkey dinner for needy families, but they’re awaiting test results for pesticides and other chemicals the birds might have inadvertently gobbled. Unfortunately, those turkeys won’t be put to good use, as those results aren’t expected before Thanksgiving.
Image via youtube