Submitted by Diane Hahn, Fairhaven
Let’s Talk Turkey
I am writing to offer another point of view regarding the “Don’t Feed TheTurkeys!” story in the 8/17 issue of this esteemed publication. I am without question the subject of the accusations of trying to kill the turkeys as reported by the Animal Control Officer. I have been scolded by a few of my neighbors for what they believe is my trying to hurt the two dangerously aggressive Toms that have been terrorizing the adults, children and pets in my area for the past year.
Some of my daily experiences with the birds include:
1. The Toms charging at my car as I was driving on Adams Street on a rainy day while another car was tailgating me preventing me from braking in order to not hit them. They also chase vehicles driving on our neighborhood streets.
2. The Toms attacking when I’m trying to enter or exit my car.
3. The Toms attacking as I am walking or riding my bike.
4. The Toms charging at my dog that is half their size.
What’s worse is I often have a toddler with me when I encounter the fowl. YES, I carry one of my baseball bats when outdoors or driving (there’s one on my front porch, my back deck and in my car). I have used them to intimidate the Toms each and every time they try to dominate me in the pecking order. YES, I use my car to intimidate them when they charge at it when I’m driving or when I’m trying to get out of my car. I’ve used my bats to scare the turkeys away from kids trying to get to and from school.
I am not the only person to encounter the Toms’ dangerous, aggressive behavior. As I canvassed my area with flyers describing the Toms’ behaviors and ways to protect yourself and your property, dozens of people reported to me similar incidences on a regular basis.
The nasty Toms have spread their intimidating, dangerous behavior far further than my immediate neighborhood. I live at 86 Francis Street and have gone north to Jarvis, and south to Linden, east to Birchfield, and west to Castle — the stories are the same.
The other danger that has affected this area is the increased presence of predatory animals such as coyote, fox and fishercat.
Mass Wildlife’s website states (http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/fish-wildlife-plants/wild-turkey-faq.html): “Predators of poults and adults include red fox, coyote, fisher, bobcat, great horned owl, goshawk, red-tailed hawk, and other avian predators.”
Wild animals in great numbers increase the threat of disease, like rabies. Outside of the danger to humans there is also the cruel reality of pets being prey. In my three block area six cats disappeared in six weeks.
I’ve been asked,”Why are there tons of rabbits and squirrels if indeed there has been increased numbers of predators?”
The answer is in the percentages. The three blocks are bordered by Adams & Green (east & west) and Mayflower & Elm (north & south) contains approximately 40 houses and let’s say half of them have a cat. Six of twenty is a noticeable 30% of pets that have gone missing.
Now do the same math on a low estimate of 100 squirrels and rabbits in the same area and it’s a hardly noticeable 6%.
There had been a few people in my area who thought is was OK to feed the turkeys but when the numbers increased most of them stopped months ago. The fact that the turkeys are still around after people stopped feeding them is due to available natural food sources.
Again from the above website: “In studies in 4 Northeastern states, acorns, grapes, corn, fern heads, barberries, multiflora rose hips, and beech and maple buds ranked as important winter foods. Grass and sedge leaves, nut crops, tubers, flowers, and seeds were valued in spring and summer. Beechnuts, acorns, grasses, cultivated grains, dogwood, grapes, and animal food were predominant fall foods. A 10-year New York study found acorns, beechnuts, black cherry fruits, ash and ironwood seeds, and hawthorne fruits to be major turkey foods in fall, winter, and spring. In summer, grass seeds and animal foods were also important.”
I’ve done the research and feel entirely justified in my aggressive behavior toward the foul fowl because I pay for my property and taxes to the Town….the Toms don’t.
Because our ACO and the MA Dept of Fish and Game have not been successful in dealing with this, I’ve recently contacted Selectman Dan Freitas because I’m done trying to do this on my own.
To learn more about the behavior of turkeys and how they interact with humans, visit http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dfg/dfw/wildlife/wildlife-living/living-with-turkeys.pdf
Click here to download the entire 9/14/17 issue: 09-14-17 FtPhoenixRace
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