The wild turkeys of Staten Island are multiplying, and getting grouchy! “I’m scared. The turkeys keep coming and coming and coming. They never stop,” said Suloa Perasevic, 37, of Ocean Breeze. “The officials told us last year they would solve this problem, but now it’s a year later and there are more turkeys, not less.”
Perasevic, a handyman, said the feathered pests have gotten so curmudgeonly that he and his wife are afraid to let their two daughters, ages 5 and 1, play in their yard. He purchased a sonar machine to shoo the birds away, but his plan backfired. “ They didn’t mind it one bit,” he said.
Ocean Breeze's turkey terror began in 1999 when a local resident liberated her nine pet birds at nearby South Beach Psychiatric Center
The birds cause major traffic headaches, according to residents.
Fox 5 saw one turkey playing chicken with a car. The bird just stood there, until the driver gave in and went around.
One woman recently said she was trapped in her car after turkeys jumped onto her windshield.
"Sometimes you have to stop you have to wait five to ten minutes at a time, I've seen them here since I was a kid," one man said.
“How stupid can you get? Why do they want to know my feeling about turkeys?” said Fran Russo, 55, who has lived in Ocean Breeze for nearly 25 years. "They can be aggressive. I one time saw a man at the red light taunting a turkey. His window was down and he was making noises at it. Next thing you know the light turned green and the turkey started chasing the car down the street, pecking at it."
Russo has a seasonal idea for turkey control. “They should look out or they will become someone’s dinner,” she said.
Now some residents have taken matters into their own hands. Around Thanksgiving hungry residents can be seen scooping up the turkeys up and driving away with them, according to Russo.
"The turkeys have multiplied since last year. They are street wise. They are city turkeys. They know how to survive," said Russo.
"These turkeys are out of control," said Angela Foster, 63, who first noticed the invasion a decade ago.
Packs of turkeys strut slowly along the tree-lined residential streets near Liberty Ave. and Mason Street.
Standing 2 to 4 feet high, they meander between houses and linger for hours outside some homes.
At Staten Island University Hospital, patients and staff routinely dodge the birds gathered outside the doors.
“I had one under my car last week,” said Mr. Budano, 71, a retired traffic manager for the subways. “I had to chase him out with a broom. But they can become vicious.”
The creatures that have unnerved Mr. Budano, and many of his neighbors, are wild turkeys: scores of them have invaded the streets surrounding the South Beach Psychiatric Center on the eastern shore of Staten Island.
These are the urban sidewalks of New York, residents like to remind visitors, not some rustic patch of woods.
“In New York City you worry about roaches and rats, not turkeys,” Mr. Budano said.
Residents complain that the turkeys eat their shrubs and garden vegetables, frighten small children and snatch cookies out of their hands, wake families up before sunrise and cross the streets in indolent flocks that seem impervious to impatient drivers.
The fact that Thanksgiving is around the corner has elicited about as much compassion as the crows received in the Alfred Hitchcock horror movie “The Birds.”
Not everyone is crying fowl. Some residents welcome the turkeys.
"Everyone complains and complains about all the turkeys," said Neil, 73, who said he considers the turkeys "pets" (wouldn't give last name)"But come Thanksgiving what the first thing all these people will be asking for? Turkey!"
There are roughly 100 turkeys in the neighborhood, according to the DEC, though locals think it might be in the thousands.
City law protects the wild turkeys from hunters so the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is apparently considering taking steps to manage the birds. The DEC has sent out surveys to people in the area to see what they think about the issue.
For more information on Wild Turkeys, visit the websites below:
All About Wild Turkeys
Wild Turkey Facts
"Happy Thanksgiving, from The Pet Tree House!"