Wild Turkey Control Is Not Necessary: They Have Been Here Longer Than Humans, Control Pest Insect Populations, And Do No Harm Aside From A Little Inconvenience


Wild Turkeys Have Resided In New York State and City Before They Existed, And It Believed They Were Here Longer Than Native Americans

Wild turkeys have come up recently in political circles on Staten Island, where they are being regarded as “nuisance” animals. Often, when animals are cast in this way, they become slated for extermination. Back in 2013, a similar situation came up, and a large number of wild turkeys were slaughtered by the USDA. There was no real reason given for this action, and the populations of wild turkeys have rebounded since that time.

Many Staten Islanders, particularly those that clamor the most loudly agains the wild turkeys, do not realize that the turkeys were intentionally reintroduced into New York City a century after they became extinct here due to overharvesting of their eggs and hunting. Wild turkeys provide many hidden benefits for homeowners and other residents, including keeping populations of certain bug pests in check, including ticks and other insects that bother humans.

This discussion with John DiLeonardo of Humane Long Island, touches on some of the other options that can be used to coexist with, and possibly control the behavior of, the wild turkey population.

According to John, along with many in the scientific community, it is a far better idea from a humane perspective, as well as an economic or money-saving perspective, to learn to coexist with the turkeys. Turkeys are indigenous to this area, and they were brought back into New York State and New York City in the mid-1950s by the Department of Environmental Conservation. One of the easiest ways to do this, if your are a homeowner or resident who doesn’t want them on your property, is to simply scare them away from where they aren’t wanted. This can be done with a hose, a sprinkler system, or even an umbrella that you open and close.

It is also important that, if you don’t want them nesting on your property, that you do not feed them. Allow them to forage as they normally do, and then they won’t have a special reason to make their nest on your property. There are also some residents who don’t mind them making a nest by their house. They are beautiful, intelligent, friendly, and curious birds, who will come and say hello to you if they consider you their friend, and they may even introduce you to their babies.

For those residents who want to see the turkeys up close, but not from their front yard, they can visit one of the number of local sanctuaries in Upstate New York and elsewhere to visit with and possibly even feed the turkeys. Specifically, some of the turkeys who are from Staten Island were recently relocated to the And-Hof Animal Sanctuary in the Catskills, and can be visited there.

An interesting fact is that Benjamin Franklin wanted the wild turkey to be America’s bird, before the Bald Eagle was chosen. He believed they were a more respectable bird than the Bald Eagle, having been native to America.

It really is not that difficult to get along with other beings, including the wild turkeys. They have been on Staten Island for longer than humans have, including the tribal peoples in the Americas. So, just as we must learn to get along with other humans, we can all learn to get along with our animal brothers and sisters.



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  • Avatar Critical Region Consulting says:

    I’ve said this for decades! Thank you for supporting native wildlife!!

  • Avatar Armchair Environmentalist says:

    I love the turkeys. They’re so cute and friendly. How can anyone not like them?

  • Avatar Lilith says:

    you’re basically not addressing how alot of these turkeys are not friendly, in fact have attacked children, adults & dogs just for walking by. They’re filthy & no one wants them on their roofs, in their trees, on their lawns, and blocking traffic. They are not native to SI and in factf were brought here when some mindless, thoughtless lowlife released her pet turkeys years ago. Property here is small and no room for these disgusting birds.

    • Magnificent Zero Magnificent Zero says:

      I don’t think they’re disgusting, literally. They are not disease ridden animals.

      Their poop is a lot like goose poop. I definitely don’t want to step in either! But they are not carnivores. Dog poop is a lot more germy. I wish my neighbors would be more careful cleaning up after their dogs…but that’s another issue.

      Still, no one wants bird s— all over the place. I have seen these birds more and more. I have never been attacked. I don’t know anyone who has. But I do know someone who had them on the roof and they wouldn’t leave.

      We used to have a lot of pheasants, too. I think if you want to move to the island, you should know it’s a lot of woods and wildlife. When I was a kid, it was even more just forests. Now it’s a lot of houses and developments.

      We used to get ducks in the pool. The trails by our house are now gone. We never knew it was one day going to be built up. There were muskrats, possums, and raccoons.

      Yeah, they’re a nuisance, but it goes with living in a more wild area.

      • ninjapaul ninjapaul says:

        Native islander here, and I’m sure I’m a generation or three older than you! lol

        But I have the same memories. We would built tree houses out in the woods. Then years later only to discover it was private land and not a public woods.

        The turkeys…it’s a sensitive issue. It’s the same as the deer. There are strong positions on both sides that are worth considering.

        We used to ride 4 wheelers in the woods. Pheasants everywhere! I haven’t seen them in years now.

        A guy in the woods told me that wild rabbits ended up disappearing bc they were trapping them. I also met an old guy in Graniteville who lived there his whole life. He said it was so wild when he was a kid that there was wildlife everywhere. But no deer. That’s a long story. They were here, just hiding. Others can jump in..I’ve used up my break ti,me lol

    • Angel Dust Angel Dust says:

      I agree. If I wanted a pet turkey, I’d go to the turkey farm and buy one.

      In NYC you can have farm animals on your property. Some people still do.

      Up here in Puerto Richmond, a lot of families have chickens for eggs.

      That’s different. If they get out a neighbors will bring it back. Or, a lot less likely, steal. Not everyone is honest, but my neighbors are good people., Still, there is good and evil people everywhere.

      Killing them is not the answer. Learn to shoo them. We shoo them when we rarely see them. They go to a different spot. But yes, even up here, we get turkeys once in a while. They aren’t dumb so just let them know you aren’t down with hanging out with them for an extended, uninvited session of camping out in our yard. They’ll move along. You don’t have to swat at them. It’s illegal, also. You can’t hurt or threaten them. I literally talked with a NYC Parks police about this. So you have the right to make them move, but not by harming them or torturing them without physically harming them.

      They will move to wilder areas. People just have to know how to move them. Some neighbors give them water and food. That’s their business.

      But the turkeys stay away from my house. I’m chill with them. When I see them they are fine with me. But they never ever camp out at my grandmohter’s house or even stop in front. They know I will tell them to move along. I can flap my wings. Oh, I mean arms. hahah

      You just can’t be inhumane. Like she said using a bullhorn or an airhorn. That is illegal.

  • Avatar MGODDESS says:

    YOU get along with the foul fowls all you want, but on SI they are a BIG nuisance. They often travel in large groups, chasing dogs & small children and leave their filthy poo behind on the lawn! The also roost in the trees & roofs and leave their droppings. There are way to many of them and we live in too close quarters for this many wild turkeys. Either relocate them or cull the herd.

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