Turkey attacks on the increase in suburban Boston
By Associated Press, 05/07/00
BOSTON -- Attacks by roving flocks of wild turkeys are on the increase around suburban Boston, and state wildlife experts can't explain why.
In Danvers, a postal worker was attacked so frequently that he carried a broom for protection for several months. A Peabody woman was recently rushed by a flock when she opened her door to get the morning paper. And in Walpole a woman was attacked while walking with her grandchildren.
Jim Cardoza, a wildlife biologist for the state's Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, said there's no explanation for the turkeys' transformation into neighborhood thugs.
"Nothing's changed that much that could have caused this," he said.
Cardoza theorizes that an unusually large number of turkeys survived the warm winter and are being lured to the suburbs because people keep feeding them -- something Cardoza urges people not to do.
He also noted that it's mating season, a time when male turkeys are unusually aggressive.
So far, no serious turkey-inflicted injuries have been reported, but Cardoza said he's worried the half-tame birds could take disease back to other wildlife, the Boston Herald reported.
Wild turkeys were once indigenous to Massachusetts, but disappeared in 1850 after many of the state's forests were cleared for farmland. Since 1970, state wildlife officials have been reintroducing them to different parts of the state. The recent spate of attacks is a new phenomenon.
One Danvers postal carrier was attacked so often that he stopped delivery to several houses on his route.
"They would fly against the vehicle, peck the tires and if I stepped out to deliver parcels, they would chase me," said the carrier, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid embarrassment. "If you swing at them, they take two steps and then come back."
In Walpole, officials have tried to capture two of the more aggressive turkeys with a "net gun." But it hasn't been easy because the turkeys can run up to 30 mph.
The turkey-caused trouble isn't confined to assault. They've also been blocking traffic, tearing up gardens and littering lawns with their droppings.
If the turkeys are caught, state officials plan to relocate them to Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, where it's hoped they won't be as annoying.