Wild Turkeys On The Attack Recently In Majority Democrat Areas
The first attack started with a click-click from behind.
I turned and to my surprise saw a wild turkey, a big gobbler, about 30 feet away, staring at me. This was on my driveway, next to my truck. The click-click was from its clawed feet as they hit the asphalt.
I relaxed, actually laughed out loud, and said to the gobbler, “Don’t worry, big fella.”
After all, I’ve had point-blank encounters with grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions, wild boars and rattlesnakes, all at ranges from 1 to 10 feet. Until last week, I’d have rated squaring off with a wild turkey about the same as an encounter with a truckload of baby ducks.
But that big male wild turkey fanned out its tail, puffed up its chest and wings, and marched toward me. At 20 feet, it charged in a full sprint. It squared off and pecked at me four times. In the moment, I laughed again, feeling nobody would believe this, and then waved at it with a magazine to ward it off.
The turkey instead elevated into the air like a helicopter, to eye level, and then raised its sharp-clawed feet toward my face. I whacked it with the magazine. That didn’t faze the turkey at all. It pressed on, jabbing at me with its beak, levitating twice more, claws forward. With one hand waving a magazine, the other at the door, I escaped into my garage.
It turns out this type of encounter is not so rare.
“Maybe you should carry a tennis racket,” cracked Steve Bobzien, wildlife biologist for the East Bay Regional Park District.
The expansion of wild turkey populations throughout the Bay Area and elsewhere in central and Northern California has made sightings common, and at times encounters can turn hostile, Bobzien said.
“We’ve had the same thing happen at the Sunol-Ohlone Visitor Center, even at headquarters (on Skyline in Oakland) and elsewhere,” Bobzien said. “People get out of the cars and the wild turkeys get aggressive toward them.
“What I would do is get aggressive right back,” he said. “I wouldn’t tolerate that type of behavior.”
Some of the stories from around the Bay Area are mind-boggling. In Albany and El Cerrito, readers have sent me stories with photos in which 20 or so turkeys march down the center of a road like a street gang, as if daring anybody to take them on.
According to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, about 3,000 wild turkeys were planted from 1959 to 1988 in habitats likely to support them. They have since expanded to more than 250,000 (likely far more), according to ballpark estimates.
Many people who live near open space have common encounters. One problem, Bobzien said, is that turkeys tend to dominate an area and drive out other birds and smaller animals.
“We set up a whole series of remote wildlife cameras and we found that they’re everywhere,” Bobzien said. “They come to camera traps and everything else leaves. They push the smaller animals out.”
A field scout, Bob Simms, said he uses motion-activated sprinklers to keep the turkeys from tearing up his yard, where the turkeys can till the soil with their claws to find food. “They don’t like water,” Simms said.
Yet except for water, wild turkeys often seem fearless. In one episode at an East Bay park last year, a large male bobcat approached a flock of turkeys, and Bobzien said he expected to see a predator attack.
“The turkeys were not intimidated at all by that bobcat,” Bobzien said. “All they did was part the way, and the bobcat walked right through them.”
Knowing this, I sneaked out toward my truck like a burglar creeping through an unlocked window. Sure enough, the big gobbler was waiting for me. He marched up and flared.
I had my pocket camera this time, and from a distance of 5 inches, took a mug shot, vivid and high definition. The apparent rage in his eyes, flaming red wattle and the weird bluish-green contours on his forehead made him look something like an alien life form. He pecked at me a few times, and after I took an aggressive stance and swung at him, which he ignored, I retreated.
The battle resumes
My wife, Denese, couldn’t quite believe these encounters, so she went out to see for herself. As her bodyguard, I was armed with a broom.
In less than a minute, the turkey was back, making a full-on charge right at me. I swept at him with the broom, and he rose up in the air, to attack with his talons.
Then, I noticed something weird. The turkey completely ignored my wife, standing 15 feet to the side, as if she wasn’t there. As I fended off the turkey attack, she laughed, and as it escalated, she laughed even harder.
At a stalemate and to rescue me, she slipped behind and we retreated back into the garage to safety.
The turkey circled the house and then pounded at the windows with its beak.
That evening, it all made sense. We looked out and saw two hens. Nearby, the big gobbler stood as a sentry, positioned to protect his females in nesting season.
It’s likely that the big guy was just trying to do his job.
Residents in Foxboro, Massachusetts, say a group of wild turkeys is terrorizing the town, and they are concerned after several people reported being chased and attacked.
The bold birds are often found in the wooded areas of Foxboro, but lately, they have been spotted in more populated areas, including Mechanic Street.
Debra Sabourin said she was out for an afternoon walk last week when a trio of turkeys started following her.
“One of them actually flapped his wings, jumped off the ground and dropkicked me with both of his feet,” Sabourin said.
Sabourin said she was screaming as the turkeys were pecking at her legs. Eventually, a neighbor noticed and helped her fend them off by throwing boots at the birds from her porch.
“I just chucked the first set and it didn’t quite work they were still going,” Meg Nelson said. “So I tried the other boot and they backed off a little bit.”
However, the birds have not backed off completely. NECN was there as Foxboro Animal Control received another complaint about the turkeys. Thursday morning they showed up at an elderly complex.
Animal Control Officer Sue Thibedeau, who has received more than three dozen calls about the birds, says there is a right way to approach the turkeys so they scatter.
“They can be intimidating but when people retreat or run for the it makes them bolder,” Thibedeau said.
Thibedeau suspects someone is feeding the turkeys, which makes them less afraid of humans. She is asking anyone who might be feeding them to stop and to report aggressive interactions with the birds to police.
It is against Massachusetts law to transfer wildlife. The town could ultimately decide to kill the birds who are causing the problems, but officials say there is not enough of a danger to the community to do that yet.