Wednesday, November 27, 2013

(Sub)Urban Incursions: Revenge of the Turkeys

Once, back in grad school, I led my departmental ecology/evolution reading group in a discussion of the sometimes funny, sometimes uneasy interactions of humans and wildlife in “human” areas.

We talked about several problems, but the one I remember best was the influx of wild turkeys into metro-Boston neighborhoods like Brookline, MA.

Around that time, the Boston Globe had done a story on the matter that included quotes from residents who had called the police over turkey sightings or incidents. These were some of the best—or, at least, most entertaining—quotes I have ever read in the newspaper on any subject. For example:

“Caller reports ‘giant’ turkey (½ the size of an elephant). Fears it will wander into traffic in front of Starbucks.”

“Caller reports 18 turkeys in her backyard. ‘Something must be done,’ caller says. ‘It’s just not right.’”

It’s been years since that discussion, but every fall I think of the turkeys invading Brookline, and this year I decided to do a quick online search to see if they were still a problem.

Sure enough, I found news stories like these from last year and this one:

Wild Turkeys Overrun Brookline, Mass. (ABC news)

Turkeys strike back, attacking the people who eat them (MSN)

Wild turkey invades home in Brookline (Boston Globe)

—And, this just in: Wild Staten Island Turkeys Everywhere (Audubon magazine)

The problems of living in harmony with the animals that we have either previously displaced or unwittingly attracted to an area (because of the food or habitat our own behaviors provide) are many. Different situations will require different behaviors, from acceptance and avoidance to actions ranging from better trash and land management all the way to culling.

At their most basic, though, all of the solutions will require us to recognize that we are not the only species out there, even in areas that we think of as ours. We will have to move beyond our feelings of entitlement and think about what we can do to live around other animals without either animosity or the excessive, hubristic fascination that leads us to pet bears or feed bananas to Coney Island seals.

Until that happy, enlightened time arrives, however, we can at least entertain ourselves with reports like these:

{A note: I do write all text and take all pictures. Please do not reproduce either without my permission.}


Good Ol' Ant said...

Yeah! Feelings of entitlement! The Republicans will get right on that because they're against entitlements of any kind!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Turkeys would be great. It's coyotes I am not wild about.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

I understand your concern, Patti. Still, we only have ourselves to blame for most of this, and if we can figure out useful, long-term ways to coexist, all the better...

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