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April 10, 2016

New Jersey town seeks peace with destructive 'gangster turkeys'

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services attempts to relocate aggressive birds

Odd News Turkeys
041016_TurkeysTeaneck Source /CBS 2

Wild turkeys on the prowl in Teaneck, New Jersey.

Fans of Stephen Spielberg's 'Gremlins' will likely sympathize with the beleaguered residents of Teaneck, N.J., who are dealing with a similar scourge that lately descended on their town in the form of wild turkeys.

Over the past few months, residents from across Teaneck have reported multiple incidents involving erratic turkeys who are destroying their property and sauntering around in eerie gang formations.

Toward the end of January, as Courtney Lopchinsky ate dinner with her children, a mud-covered turkey rocketed through her window and flailed around wildly in a hail of shattered glass.

"I grabbed the kids and we literally ran for our lives out of the house because we were so scared," Lopchinsky told CBS New York. "All of a sudden it went straight through the window...we were covered in glass. The turkey was covered in mud and water and kept flapping its wings throwing mud and water everywhere."

Teaneck Health Officer Ken Katter told the station he's received more than a dozen calls about wild turkeys. In several cases, parents have expressed alarm about the birds intimidating groups of children at bus stops, while members of a local synagogue say they're terrified to step out of their vehicles for fear that they'll be attacked. Even walking a pet dog has become a potential hazard.

Lopchinsky, who says she was traumatized by the incident, told NJ.com that the thrashing turkey caused $6,000 in damage and could have seriously injured her 2-year-old daughter. The child may never sleep at night again.

A spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection explained that it's mating season for the turkeys and they may be especially prone to bouts of aggression. They are especially drawn to their own reflections in glass windows and other reflective surfaces, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

Katter has advised residents not to confront the turkeys at first sight. If their harassment continues, they can be scared away by making noises, spraying water at them or unleashing a well-built dog in their direction. Animal Control Officer Vincent Ascolese says he will give the air horns to Teaneck officials to distribute to the public.

While some locals say the turkey problem has come and gone for several years, Lopchinsky believes it's an issue in urgent need of intervention.

“There has to be a peaceful solution," Lopchinksy said. "They can’t just keep ransacking the neighborhood.”

In addition to a DEP meeting held last Tuesday night, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service says it will work to trap the turkeys and take them to safety on state lands. If the mayhem continues, however, we're certainly not advocating violence, but desperate times call for desperate measures—or at least Thanksgiving dinner.