In towns like Brookline, Massachusetts, the dinner table won’t be the only place to find turkeys this Thanksgiving. Chances are, some people will see groups of them trotting through their backyards. Wild turkeys can be a nuisance. Noisy flocks dig up lawns, roost on roofs, scratch up cars, and block traffic. They also leave behind droppings just about everywhere they go.
Brookline isn’t the only place with turkey troubles. The wild birds have invaded cities and towns from Berkeley, California, to Staten Island, New York. Experts estimate that 6 million wild turkeys can be found roaming the United States.
That is a huge change from about 75 years ago. In the 1940s, only small populations of these birds could be found in a few states. Wildlife officials began moving some of them to areas of the country where they had died out. The program was a success. The wild turkey population has since boomed.
Of course, all those turkeys need to eat. So they often wander from wooded areas into towns to find food. Experts say it’s important not to feed wild turkeys.
“We need to keep wild turkeys wild,” says Emily Stolarski, a wildlife official in Massachusetts.