HomeOutdoorsNewsWild Turkeys Wreaking Havoc on New Jersey Neighborhoods

Wild Turkeys Wreaking Havoc on New Jersey Neighborhoods

by Megan Molseed
(Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Wild turkeys are taking over New Jersey neighborhoods by storm. They are hopping fences into backyards…climbing steps and scaling buildings, climbing onto roofs, or standing by front doors. Some New Jersey residents have seen mad dashes to their vehicles as part of their daily routine as they avoid the wild animals and their aggressively territorial ways.

New Jersey’s Program To Restore The Turkey Population Worked A Little Too Well

Turkey hunting practices gained traction over the centuries and ultimately, this decimated the natural population of the large birds. By 1977, turkeys had all but disappeared from the New Jersey area. It was around this time that the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife released 22 turkeys into the wild. Hoping to restore the population, Now, residents are witnessing firsthand how successful this project has been.

“Turkeys are a highly-adaptable bird that can live in many different habitats,” notes Jimmy Sloan, who serves as the upland game bird biologist for the state Department of Environmental Protection. Sloan adds that wild turkeys are found in all of New Jersey’s 21 counties.

Sloan explains that there are programs to relocate problem turkeys. But, only if they are causing damage. Damage, Sloan says, like tearing up landscapes or denting vehicles with their sharp beaks.

“They’re always hanging around,” the biologist explains.

“If they’re not doing any damage, we can’t relocate them,” Sloan adds. “It’s no different than a cardinal flying into your bird feeder. We wouldn’t relocate a cardinal.”

The Turkeys In The Area Are “Crazy” One Resident Relates

Alice Agnello, a resident of New Jersey’s Holiday City notes that she has had three encounters with these wild animals in recent months. She isn’t sure if it was the same one, however, even though the encounters all took place in the same area.

“I don’t know if it’s the same turkey,” says Agnello. “But these turkeys are crazy around here.”

According to Agnello, the encounters occurred at the retirement village in the Toms River area. The first encounter happened last spring as the woman was heading home from work. Agnello remembers hearing a “strange noise” as she was pulling into her driveway. As she got out of the car, Agnello noticed a turkey at the back of the vehicle.

“I grabbed my pocketbook,” Agnello remembers. “Got inside the garage and hit the ‘close’ button.”

A couple of weeks later, the same woman was driving her pet chihuahua to the vet when a turkey darted out in front of her on the road. Later, the same thing happened only this time, the bird began to peck at Agnello’s vehicle. Each one of these instances, the Jersey woman says, left her feeling intimidated.

“It seems he wanted either me or my car,” Agnello recalls. “I’ll admit it: I’m a coward. I’m not brave.”

The turkeys may be aggressive. However, Sloan is quick to note that humans don’t need to fear the massive birds. Turkeys are known to attack vehicles because they mistake their own reflections for another bird.

“The males are dominant,” Sloan explains. “They think they see another male, so it’s time to fight.”