Urban turkeys run afoul in Boston - Metro US

Urban turkeys run afoul in Boston

massachusetts turkeys
Next time you see a wild turkey, the Massachusetts Division of Wildlife wants to know. Photo: David Slater / Flickr

Springtime marks turkey-hunting season in Massachusetts, but as far as Bostonians are concerned, it’s the turkeys that are hunting them.

March through May is breeding season for the birds and hormones tend to make them a little bolder, according to wildlife officials — that’s one of the reasons the state allows turkeys to be hunted between April 24 and May 21.

The birds can be seen strutting their stuff down city streets, sidewalks and rushing at pets and sometimes even people as they try to assert their dominance in hopes of finding a sweet hookup.

Incidents with the birds have gotten so out of hand that the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game issued an advisory last week offering people tips on how to “prevent turkey conflicts.”

“Those hormones have got those birds really going,” Marion Larson, chief information and education officer for the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife told Metro. Though the agency doesn’t keep tabs on the number of turkey fouls, there’s always a marked rise around this time of year, she added.

Turkey scratches are nothing to joke about, Larson said. It’s important people assert their place at the top of the pecking order to avoid confrontations with aggressive turkeys. You see, turkeys don’t know what people are — we’re all just turkeys to them, she said. 

“Turkeys may attempt to dominate or attack people that they view as subordinates, and this behavior is observed most often during breeding season,” the advisory states.

Larson recommended charging at turkeys while waving your arms in the air and yelling “like a weirdo” to solidify your place at the top of the pecking order.

All sorts of weird turkey behavior has been chalked up to mating season hormones — from aggression toward pets and humans to walking out into traffic to pecking at random shiny objects.

Back in March at the beginning of breeding season a freaky flock of turkeys was filmed in Randolph circling a dead cat in a seemingly ritualistic fashion.

Scientists still haven’t quite figured that one out, but Twitter user @TheReal_JDavis probably said it best when he posted the video, “Bro, this is wild.”

The birds that once dominated Northeast forests have moved into cities and suburban neighborhoods in recent decades, finding better foraging beside dumpsters and in backyards than in the woods.

Their presence in more populated areas has wreaked all kinds of havoc in recent years, including the 2013 case of a deranged turkey that was terrorizing schoolchildren in Brookline.

Police eventually euthanized the bird, issuing this advisoy to residents: “It requires the efforts of the entire neighborhood to help keep wild turkeys wild.”

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