Turkeys ruffle Brookline residents’ feathers

Turkeys ruffle Brookline residents’ feathers

Rats, cockroaches, pigeons and Boston University students have made the list of Brookline residents’ most hated neighbors, but another more hostile creature is kicking and scratching its way through the streets.

Wild turkeys squeezed from their natural habitat by construction in South Brookline have taken to the streets near Coolidge Corner and Washington Square and have become a nuisance to area residents, said Brookline Police Department Capt. John O’Leary.

“Sometimes they were actually going toward the little kids, or coming at people to protect themselves,” O’Leary said.

Turkeys become more aggressive when people feed them, O’Leary said, adding residents should spray water at the birds or wave a broom to ward them off.

People hoping to grab an early holiday dinner should back off, however; the turkey is a protected animal, he said.

“We don’t have a right to move them around,” O’Leary said.

Residents say although the turkeys began as a cute curiosity, they have become an intimidating presence in their town.

“[The turkeys] used to be nice and didn’t attack people, but one day I saw the turkey chasing after a student. He pecked at her,” said Caroline Egnaczyk, 26, a Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis employee. “We can’t have him attacking people, so we chased after him with pots and pans.”

“[Someone] told me once that a wild turkey attacked their car, like a bear,” said Boston University graduate Leana Ovadia. “[Turkeys are] getting into my nightmares, and I want [them] out of my life.”

Not all the residents have pinned the turkeys as a nuisance, however.

“I have seen them crossing my street, and cars will stop and people will smile and wait patiently for the train of them to cross,” said Raya Borinski in an email. “All is quiet except for the occasional gobble, very reminiscent of Make Way For Ducklings.”

Still, even Borinski said the turkeys have their annoying points.

“One night I think they were sleeping,” she said. “All of a sudden I heard a blood-curdling gobble.”

BU spokesman Colin Riley said turkeys have never wandered over to the Charles River Campus, but said students should remain wary.

“I think people need to remember they’re wild animals,” he said. “I would not come in contact with one if I saw one on campus.”

Local animal-rights activists say the birds pose no threat to the community and were only forced into downtown Brookline after people pushed them from their habitats.

“They’re very skittish,” said Massachusetts Animal Rights Coalition co-founder Steve Rayshick. “Wild animals don’t have anywhere to go. It’s a problem all over the state and all over the country.”