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Reintroduced in the 1970s, turkeys have invaded American cities

Without hunting and predators, “there is no regulation system for turkey populations,” he says. The city has euthanized a few birds over the years because they were injured, but it is not an official policy.

Most conflicts involving these birds are linked to their habit of strutting through the streets, obstructing traffic. “Motorists are surprised. They don’t know what to do, so they stop,” says Cheung. This creates another problem: turkeys often attack their own reflection on car bodies. “It happens that we come across turkeys pecking at cars whose drivers are speechless and don’t know how to react. »

Turkeys have always been reckless. In a letter to his daughter in 1784, New Englander Ben Franklin described their aggressive nature. The birds “would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guard who had the pretension of invading his farmyard wearing a red coat. »

According to David Scarpitti, the difference these days is that turkeys are learning to live in an urban environment.

“The more familiar they become with humans, the more likely they are to exhibit this (dominant) behavior, rooted in their biology. This is what they do to each other all the time. But when they are not afraid of us, they somehow include us in this habit. »

Of course, many people enjoy seeing turkeys. The extraordinary plumage of the male, for example, is a real pleasure for the eyes. In a 2022 New Hampshire hunting and fishing survey, only 1% of respondents indicated they “dislike” turkeys at all.

“I myself was amazed to see that 97% liked them, even liked them a lot,” admits Ted Walski. “Only one or two percent complain about it. »

Many city dwellers seem to agree. “A lot of (Brookline) residents find it fascinating that these animals are in town, and that’s one of the reasons they feed them,” Cheung said.

According to wildlife managers, however, it would be better, both for these people and for the turkeys, to avoid feeding them. This also involves getting rid of feeders.

Other strategies for better cohabitation include protecting gardens, for example by covering plants with netting, masking reflective surfaces likely to attract the wrath of a territorial turkey, or scaring away birds that are would approach too close by making noise or using a garden hose.

In much of the Southeast as well as New York, where turkeys experienced a similar comeback in the late 20e century, these bird populations have declined in recent decades.

Matt DiBona, wildlife biologist for the National Wild Turkey Federation, a nonprofit that promotes wild turkey hunting and conservation, said the same thing could happen in New England, where they were reintroduced later than in other states.

“Predator numbers can potentially increase, nesting success decline, and disease can occur. All of these pressures could apply to New England turkeys,” says DiBona.

Scarpitti believes, however, that suburban New England turkeys have found a niche so robust that it would protect them from these changes, and even New England winters don’t seem to deter them.

“The winter of 2014-2015 was the worst conditions for turkeys and, by my estimation, had almost no impact on their populations thanks to the fat formed by all the extra food they were consuming,” he explains. -he. “If the population rate didn’t go down that year, I don’t think it could ever happen. »

On the contrary, it seems that it is becoming as common to see turkeys in gardens in the United States as on plates at Thanksgiving.

Gn Fr world

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