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HomenewsOnce Critically Endangered, Wild Turkey Populations Are Thriving in New Jersey Today,...

Once Critically Endangered, Wild Turkey Populations Are Thriving in New Jersey Today, to the Detriment of Some Local Communities.

They’re on the roof and outside. They stop traffic to grab your automobile.

New Jersey’s wild turkey seems to traverse the nation’s most densely populated state with abandon.

The bird that many Garden Staters prefer on a dinner plate to darting across the lawn has been flocking to suburbia in search of an easy meal.

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Jimmy Sloan, the upland game bird biologist for the state Department of Environmental Protection, says turkeys are incredibly adaptable. All 21 New Jersey counties have wild turkeys, he said.

Not always. Once abundant in the U.S., industrialization, and urbanization have eliminated much of the wild turkey’s natural habitat in the previous 400 years.

In New Jersey, the wild turkey had nearly gone by 1977. In 2010, the state Division of Fish and Wildlife released 22 birds and began a successful rehabilitation project.
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An estimated 21,000 wild turkeys are roaming in the state this Thanksgiving, and they often show up in unwelcome locations.

Turkeys are territorial and aggressive, like many birds. They’re large, collect in flocks, and are hard to get rid of.

The state Division of Fish and Wildlife manages spring and fall turkey hunting seasons, just like black bears.

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State officials say hunters killed 2,428 wild turkeys in 2022, up from 2,327 in 2021. Sloan said the state’s wild turkey population peaked in 2006 at 23,000. Since then, the population has stabilized.

Hunger will drive turkeys from the woods to farmers’ fields and beyond. Sloan said some have made it to suburbia to eat planted lawns and bird feeders.

Wild turkeys wrecked Toms River in 2019. Former Mets and Yankees third baseman Todd Frazier tweeted that Gov. Phil Murphy should act.

Once Critically Endangered, Wild Turkey Populations Are Thriving in New Jersey Today, to the Detriment of Some Local Communities.

Toms’s River Wildlife says they can’t move them. Irrelevant. They nearly hurt my family and friends, wrecked my cars and yard, and more, Frazier tweeted.

Residents in Holiday City, Toms River, said the state removed several birds but the problem remains.

Sloan said the state Division of Fish and Wildlife has responded to nuisance turkey reports in Deptford, Gloucester County, Sicklerville, Camden County, and Holiday City since 2019.
Flocks of birds have been sighted in Cape May County’s Middle Township, Bergen County’s Ridgewood, and Passaic County’s Garret Mountain.

Poaching wild turkeys is unlawful because they’re regulated. Fish and Wildlife will trap and release problem birds if they cause considerable property damage, such as tearing up the landscaping or denting cars.

“They linger. We can’t relocate them if they’re not causing damage. It’s like a cardinal visiting your feeder. Sloan: “We wouldn’t move a cardinal.”

Alice Agnello, a Toms River resident, has had three near brushes with wild turkeys. In May, she pulled into her driveway after work.

Agnello heard a peculiar noise when he exited his automobile. “I noticed a turkey in the trunk.

I grabbed my wallet, went inside, and pressed “close.”

A few weeks later, she was driving Summer to the vet when a large bird darted in front of her car. She stopped and grabbed her phone to film. A fowl pecked her car as she was driving a few weeks ago.

I don’t sure if it’s the same turkey, but they’re nuts.
The meetings intimidated Agnello. She said, “He wanted me or my car.” “I’m a coward. “I’m cowardly.”

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Sloan claimed humans are safe. He stated turkeys confuse their reflection in a car door for another guy.

He said, “Males dominate.” “They see another male, so fight!”
Female turkeys lay 8-14 eggs a year. Only 60% of bird eggs escape natural predators. Sloan says the fox, coyote, and raccoon are the turkey’s natural adversaries.

After spring eggs hatch, females raise the babies. Wild turkeys can fly but don’t roam far. Sloan stated they stay to 100-2,000 acres.

He said, “This bird won’t fly 50 kilometers.”


Montclair homeowner Fannie Gray claims the same wild turkey has been visiting for two years. She mentioned the bird visits.

Gray’s Wilde Place home is near downtown Montclair and Bloomfield Avenue’s traffic. Gray has a range theory.

I suppose she’s from Eagle Rock Reservation, a nearby hilltop. The turkey returned to her backyard last week, just in time for Thanksgiving, she claimed. Gray: “She” “It’s the same bird. “She’s back because she pooped on the porch.”


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