The Ongoing Feud Between Long Islanders and Wild Turkeys

The Ongoing Feud Between Long Islanders and Wild Turkeys

A conflict between the residents of Long Island and a flock of wild turkeys is developing. Despite efforts to resolve the issue, the standoff between humans and birds continues, with legal battles, public outcries, and even viral videos adding fuel to the longstanding controversy.

The roots of the feud can be traced back to 1999 when a woman released nine pet turkeys near the South Beach Psychiatric Center, kickstarting a population boom that now numbers in the hundreds. These wild turkeys, standing at 3 feet tall and capable of reaching speeds up to 25 mph, have become a common sight on Staten Island, causing both irritation and fear among the locals.

The clash between turkeys and humans has taken various forms, from traffic disruptions to aggressive behavior toward pedestrians. In 2022, a video went viral showing a resident shouting expletives at a turkey, highlighting the frustrations felt by some Staten Islanders. The situation escalated further when a resident filed a lawsuit, claiming that an encounter with the turkeys led to a shoulder injury.

Source: CBS New York/Youtube

Despite the negative encounters, some have embraced turkeys’ presence. Some flocks are known to patrol specific areas, such as the Staten Island University Hospital, where 15 turkeys were spotted near the emergency entrance during a recent visit by The Guardian. While concerns about fecal matter were raised, some residents seemed unfazed, viewing the turkeys as a quirky part of daily life.

Local government responses to the turkey issue have varied. While there have been attempts to address the problem, including capturing and relocating turkeys, the enthusiasm for removal seems to have diminished. A wildlife summit held in 2022 failed to produce concrete plans, and the current approach appears to be one of coexistence.

The New York City Parks Department and the State Department of Environmental Conservation have issued guidelines for residents on how to coexist with the turkeys. Tips include not feeding them and avoiding intimidation, as well as using loud noises to discourage confrontational behavior. Despite these efforts, some residents remain dissatisfied, citing public health hazards and near-miss accidents involving the turkeys.

This article by Trinity Sparke was first published by One Green Planet on 10 January 2024. Image Credit: Naynon/Shutterstock.

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