Troublesome turkeys annoy Boston neighbors

By  | 

Boston (AP) -- Wild turkeys are increasingly clashing with their human neighbors as they spread out into urban areas. New England's turkey population has rebounded, but some residents complain that the birds ruin gardens, damage cars and even attack people.

Not everyone is celebrating the return of the wild turkeys.

After being wiped out from New England in the 1800s, the birds have stormed back in what's considered a major success story for wildlife restoration. But as they spread farther into urban areas, they're increasingly clashing with residents who say they destroy gardens, damage cars, chase pets and attack people.

Complaints about troublesome turkeys have surged in Boston and its suburbs over the past three years, causing headaches for police and health officials called to handle problems, according to city and town records provided to The Associated Press. It's a familiar dilemma for some other U.S. towns from coast to coast that have been overrun by turkeys in recent years.

Boston city officials say they received at least 60 complaints last year, a threefold increase over the year before. Nearby Somerville, Belmont and Brookline have seen similar upticks, combining for a total of 137 turkey gripes since the start of last year.

Often the grievance is little more than a wayward turkey blocking traffic, but in at least five cases turkeys became so aggressive that police said they had to shoot them as a matter of public safety.

Turkeys in the wild are far stronger and faster than the ones that land on Thanksgiving tables, experts say. Males in particular are driven to show physical aggression as a way to climb the social pecking order, and they sometimes view humans as potential competitors.