Rogue wild turkeys put Auburn neighborhood under siege

Gobblers mount attacks on humans in area on rim of American River canyon
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn neighborhood is under siege as emboldened wild turkeys go on the attack during mating season. The calm of the quiet Placerado Avenue area of Robie Point was punctuated Monday morning by the gobbles of turkeys. Dozens have been spotted this spring. But over the past few weeks, those gobbles are now being considered something more ominous than the reassuring sound of wildlife keeping to itself. Residents say turkey numbers have grown significantly and some of the male birds have gone into attack mode. Jeff and Beth Hickman said Monday that two family members have been chased by pecking, wild turkeys in the neighborhood. Their 6-year-old was chased inside the house by two puffed-up Toms and Beth’s father was dropping off cinnamon rolls when he had to run back down the driveway to his vehicle when confronted by an aggressive turkey. Attacks aren’t the only concern. The adult male birds display their feathers on the road and stop traffic when they refuse to move. The Hickmans have cats but they’re no match for the big birds and back off from confrontations. “They think better of it,” Jeff Hickman said. Deer also are also being targeted by aggressive wild turkeys. Nancy Pisarek, a 46-year resident of the neighborhood, said the turkeys attacked a herd and singled out a fawn to chase. “I don’t remember seeing any when we first moved here but every year there are more and they’re getting very bold,” Pisarek said. Pisarek said she saw a neighbor being chased along the road in front of her house, using a walking stick to fend off the pecking bird. Mail carriers have resorted to carrying long sticks to keep the turkeys at bay as they make their rounds. People in the neighborhood are not dealing with a flock of featherweights. Adult wild turkeys can weigh upward of 20 pounds, according to the state Department of Fish & Game. They can become aggressive during the breeding season in the spring, occasionally even charging, threatening and acting aggressively toward people. Introduced into the state in 1908, wild turkey flocks had become widespread enough 60 years later to initiate a hunting season. There are two hunting seasons now throughout the state, in the fall and spring. The current spring season lasts 37 days from the last Saturday in March. The turkeys eat a diet rich in acorns, dandelion flowers, grasses and insects but, when they move out of the wild, can destroy flowers and vegetable gardens, leave their droppings on patios and decks and roost on cars, scratching the paint. And – as some Auburn residents are finding out – they can also pack a powerful peck. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at Keeping wild turkeys wild The state Department of Fish & Game has these prevention tips to discourage wild turkeys from becoming too comfortable in urban areas: - If turkeys start feeding under hanging bird feeders, remove the feeders until the turkeys leave the area. - Install motion-detecting sprinklers if turkeys are causing problems in your yard. - Wild turkeys will typically not enter yards with dogs. - If confronted by a wild turkey that has lost its fear of humans, an open umbrella may help steer it out of your path. - Depredation permits are required to kill wild turkeys that are causing property damage. To get a depredation permit, contact your local Department of Fish & Game office. Source: California Department of Fish & Game