Yet another example of nature out of balance when predators are limited or nonexistent. No doubt our suburban environment around New York Harbor provides a landscape that offers many delights and some degree of security for herbivores.
If we really wish to bring back balance then we need to work with nature to somehow find a way to increase predators and biodiversity. As predator populations increase, they put a greater strain on prey populations and act as a top-down control, pushing prey toward a state of decline.
The main predators for turkeys are bobcats and coyotes, which like to kill adult hens; opossum, skunks and raccoons, which like to eat eggs. Foxes and great-horned owls also occasionally kill adults, especially nesting hens. Do you find predators scary, then at least we should stop feeding wild animals. We should also tell NJDEP and other state officials to stop re-introducing wild animals when a natural predator-prey relationship does not exist.
We all need to learn to live with nature and foster better biodiversity.
Turkeys, Running Amok, Are a ‘Success Story’ in New Jersey
By LISA W. FODERAROFEB. 18, 2016
The New York Times
HILLSDALE, N.J. — In some neighborhoods of this placid New Jersey borough in Bergen County, they are seemingly everywhere — waddling by the dozen in the road, perched on car roofs, pecking at the tires of delivery trucks.
But wild turkeys, which were wiped out in the state by the mid-1800s, put on their most brazen display on Tuesday, when a letter carrier felt trapped in his truck and telephoned his boss for help.
“Hey sarge,” the postmaster said in a 911 call to the Hillsdale Police Department. “You’re not going to believe this, but I got a carrier that’s being attacked by wild turkeys and won’t let him deliver the mail.”
The letter carrier, who was not identified, was inside his truck on Esplanade Drive, surrounded by four or five turkeys, when two officers arrived, according to Capt. Sean Smith of the Police Department. “The first officer attempted to blow the siren and that didn’t work,” he said on Thursday. “Then the other officer got out of his car and ran aggressively toward the turkeys and that did the trick.”
It was just one of the latest skirmishes in suburbia’s wildlife wars. Turkeys have now joined the ranks of raccoons, foxes, coyotes, bears and deer, all of which have both fans and detractors and seem to make headlines with growing frequency.
While New Jersey environmental officials say they are unaware of anyone’s being physically harmed by a turkey, the large birds are intimidating. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection, which reintroduced turkeys to the state in the 1970s, says that there are now about 25,000 statewide. “It’s a success story,” said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the environmental agency.
There are two hunting seasons, and while officials respond to 20 to 30 turkey complaints a year, the biggest problems seem to involve traffic tie-ups. “They will go out in the roads and if they get onto a major highway, they can be a traffic and safety hazard,” Mr. Hajna said.
But some local officials and residents say face-to-face turkey encounters are increasing and can be scary. The postmaster who placed the 911 call in Hillsdale told the police that the turkey situation was “crazy.” “I mean, they’re actually attacking, biting,” he said. “They chase the trucks — everything.” The police sergeant simply said, “Wow.”
Elsewhere in the state, some residents have reported being chased by turkeys.
Perhaps the most alarming scene to be caught on video occurred in 2009 in Cherry Hill, in Camden County, when a mother and her young son were accosted by a few turkeys. In the video, the mother places the boy’s tricycle between him and the turkeys, and they then run off. As a driver comes around the corner, honking the horn to frighten the birds, the mother’s screams can be heard in the background.
In nearby Burlington County, the Township of Hainesport passed a local ordinance in 2012 that banned the feeding of turkeys after some cyclists and joggers reported being stalked. And on Staten Island, the one New York City borough where turkeys have become a nuisance, residents say they chase children, eat shrubs and vegetables and snatch food from people’s hands.
In New York State, where wild turkeys were also exterminated in the 1800s, officials started to restore the population in the 1950s. Today, turkeys are well established throughout the state, with population estimates ranging from 250,000 to 300,000.
In Hillsdale, residents like Marisa Cefali, 57, say turkeys, as well as deer, coyotes and turtles, are part of the suburban menagerie that make their surroundings feel pleasantly pastoral. Mrs. Cefali lives on Manson Place, around the corner from where the letter carrier was trapped in his truck.
Marisa Cefali’s husband used to leave birdseed on the edge of their property for wild turkeys. She put a stop to that. Credit Kirsten Luce for The New York Times
“They’re actually gobbling in the morning and that’s what we wake up to,” she said, motioning to the woods behind her split-level, where she has seen as many as 20 turkeys in a single group.
Last fall, however, she put an end to her husband’s habit of leaving birdseed on the edge of their property for the turkeys. She had walked out to the driveway only to discover a turkey perched on top of their Honda Accord. “The darn thing wouldn’t get off,” she recalled. “I went upstairs and said, ‘That’s it: No more feeding the turkeys.’”
The mayor of Hillsdale, Doug Frank, dismissed the notion that the borough, which has 10,200 people, might have a turkey problem. “The population is not too large,” he said in a phone interview. “We’ve seen them around. I’ve never felt threatened. They’re big birds and I can understand why people wouldn’t want to go near them.”
Among the tight circle of area mail carriers, news of the encounter on Tuesday spread quickly. In neighboring Woodcliff Lake, Angus Hunt, a postal worker there for 30 years, said he had heard that the stricken letter carrier was a floater, meaning a postal worker from outside the area.
Mr. Hunt’s strategy is to be the alpha male, wading right through flocks of turkeys with a confident air. “They travel in packs and will come after the truck,” he said. “They peck at the wheels sometimes. I don’t antagonize them. I just get out of the truck and walk through.”
Mr. Hajna of the state environmental agency said that in late winter, some turkeys seemed to suffer from a premature form of spring fever — what he called “crazy jake” behavior. “When the day lengthens, hormones start to flow,” he explained. “Teenage males, or jakes, that are habituated to people get a bit aggressive.”
A version of this article appears in print on February 19, 2016, on page A27 of the New York edition with the headline: Turkeys, Running Amok, Are a New Jersey ‘Success’ . Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe