State To Trap Masada Street Wild Turkeys, Their Fates Yet To Be Determined

Masada Street resident Louisa Schein tells the Township Council about the trouble she’s had with wild turkeys.

The Masada Street wild turkeys’ days may be numbered.

That’s because state environmental officials are slated to begin trapping and removing them. What happens next depends on whether they are classified as a nuisance or aggressive.

If biologists from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife determine they are just nuisances, the turkeys will be moved to another location, said DEP spokesman Lawrence Hajna. However, if they are determined to be aggressive, they will be killed, he said.

“Relocation is not a viable option as this will merely create a potential problem wherever they are taken to,” Hajna said of turkeys deemed to be aggressive. “Any type of wildlife can become a nuisance if people feed them, intentionally or unintentionally.”

The issue came to the fore at the March 12 Township Council meeting, when several Masada Street residents asked the council for its help.

The turkeys, they said, are terrorizing the neighborhood.

“We are really in a bad situation in that neighborhood,” resident Louisa Schein told the Council.

“About two months ago … saw some very large turkeys in the road, didn’t think anything of it,” she said. “They started coming at me, I didn’t know what to do, retreated. That apparently was my first mistake because from then on, they came at me, but not just when I ran into them.”

“The next two incidents I had when I was walking, they came behind me, unheard by me, and suddenly they were chasing me,” Schein said. “I don’t know where they came from. They’re chasing and they’re making that awful gobbling noise and lunging. One time they pushed me back and I could have broken my head.”

“We live with deer and squirrels and geese and ducks and all these other animals in our yard, and we’ve never been afraid to go outside,” she said.

Schein said her neighbors have told her of similar incidents, including the elderly father of one who she said was chased by the turkeys.

“The most traumatic thing is that we have a little boy on our street and the bus stops at the end of the street,” she said. “I saw the kid racing back to his house away from the bus with two turkeys in hot pursuit.”

“We’ve had other reports that they’ve been at people’s doors, at people’s windows, we don’t know what to do,” she said. “We’re living under siege here, afraid to go outside of our homes.”

Deena Kansgara, also a resident of the street, said that there “has been definite escalation and aggression from these turkeys in the last three weeks. They were just like the deer; it comes to the point where you park your car in the morning … within two minutes you hear them coming around the corner. It’s scary.”

“They will also chase and nip at your car,” she said. “As you’re backing your car … they chase you down the street in your car, running at the car.”

“They are becoming increasingly aggressive,” Kansgara said. “It’s a safety concern, both for vehicles and also for people. We are legitimately terrified. It is impeding on our life.”

Ernie Renda, Schein’s husband, said the situation “is a public safety problem and the council needs to address it.”

“These turkeys are essentially aggressive domesticated creatures, and we’re requesting that the town take steps to put them down,” he said.

“I’m here to ask the council to take the necessary steps to address this problem,” Renda said.

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker told the trio that the township’s hands are pretty much tied because Franklin has no authority over wildlife.

“It is not within the bailiwick of the Township of Franklin,” to take action, he said. “This is not unlike the situation we were confronted with years ago with the black bear population … within the Six Mile Run reservoir site. The answer from us has always been this is a matter for the state to deal with and not the municipal government to deal with.”

“It is Fish and Wildlife’s responsibility to control that situation, and if they present a hazard, it’s up to Fish and Wildlife to take care of that issue,” Vornlocker said.

Vornlocker said he has also been hearing from area residents who do not want the township to do anything about the turkeys.

“As is often the case, it presents itself with some difficulty here,” he said. “I have received correspondence from numerous residents of the Wilson Road area saying that they wish this council take no action.”

Vornlocker read from one letter, whose author said they felt they were lucky to have wildlife in the area.

“This has been an ongoing issue,” he said. “It didn’t take long for the opposition party to come out and in just a strongly worded way, say leave them alone, we enjoy them in our neighborhood, they are in an area that is rural by its makeup.”

“My heart goes out to you,” Mayor Phil Kramer told the residents. “I would like to at least investigate what we can do.”

Vornlocker suggested that problem may be dealt with during the upcoming hunting season, which begins in April.

“I wish I had the answer here, I don’t,” he said. “You have two very diametrically opposed residents in that neighborhood.”

The Masada Street residents told the council that some of their neighbors have been feeding the turkeys. The mayor noted that it is illegal to feed wildlife in most instances, and suggested the township send a mailing to residents in the neighborhood reminding them of that.

“Our police force could visit the people who are feeding the turkeys and reminding them of the ordinance quite firmly,” Township Councilman Ted Chase (D-Ward 1) said.


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