Saturday, 2:15 PM
Harvard Business School turkey has its fans, detractors
By David Abel, Globe Staff
CAMBRIDGE -- She has a smaller brain than the average student on campus, but like many of the would-be MBAs at Harvard Business School, she's driven -- and refuses to let anyone dissuade her from what she wants.
For example, if she cares to roam about the flower beds, no groundskeeper will stand in her way. When she's sleepy, she has taken a fondness to napping in the dean's garden.
Sometimes, she'll spend hours staring at herself in the windows of the many surrounding buildings, no matter how many students tread past.
But after about a year waddling around the manicured campus, Harvard Business School's so-called "Turk Turkee" has become less of a mascot than a feathered menace.
The hen has "become very aggressive," said Gaia Bravicich, a Master of Business Administration candidate from Italy who says the turkey often roosts in front of her dorm. "I don't want anything bad to happen to [her], but it's not safe. [It] scares me and a lot of other people. I don't feel comfortable walking outside a lot of the time now."
Students complain the turkey chases them around, even when they're on bicycles. She has scratched cars with her beak. And she likes to dig holes in the grass and mulch. The speedy hen today chased a reporter who tried to make its acquaintance.
The Harvard Crimson this week reported that students recently started a group on the website Facebook called "HBS Students FOR THE REMOVAL OF THE TURKEY."
Bob Breslow, the school's director of administrative services, says his office has received fewer than 10 complaints about the turkey in the past year. As a result, he called the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for guidance, but he was told there was little he could do unless the school determines the turkey to be a public safety threat.
"It's easier said than done to remove the turkey," Breslow said. "The turkey is considered protected wildlife, and in Massachusetts, it's against the law to relocate wildlife. So, until then, all we can do really is let the turkey be and monitor reports about how aggressive it is."
Turkeys have become an increasing presence -- and nuisance -- throughout the state. There are now about 23,000 turkeys hopping around Massachusetts, up from almost none when officials brought them back in the early 1970s.
Jim Cardoza, a wildlife biologist with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, said he wasn't surprised to hear about Turk Turkee nesting on campus -- or about the complaints.
"It's like coyotes, raccoons, and skunks. When they become accustomed to people and there are abundant food supplies, and they're not harassed, they lose their fear of people," Cardoza said. "I wouldn't call them dangerous, but I can understand how grown adults might be afraid of them."
Still, the turkey has some fans on campus. She was portrayed in a student play last year and gets a lot of wide eyes and smiles from the children in the campus's day-care center.
John Fillmore, a second year MBA candidate from Oregon, said his wife is "terrified" of the knee-high turkey after she watched it chase a student into a building. But he's not complaining.
"I kind of like it," Fillmore said. "It provides a nice folksy contrast to the Ivy League environment."
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