Food News: Are Turkeys Mobilizing?

By Christopher Gabriel,

Driving on a major highway in suburban Minneapolis today, traffic nearly came to a halt.  The reason for the hold-up was:

A. An accident
B. Road construction
C. Turkeys 

Of course the answer is turkeys.  Two enormous birds that looked as though they were spawned from a master race of Super Turkeys simply strolling along the side of the road.  It was both surreal and a bit eerie.  Eerie, because it reminded me of an incident about this time last year.  Actually, three of them.  Three incidents that will never escape my memory.  Three incidents that, in a manner of speaking, set the table for Thanksgiving.

For quite some time I had been tracking a disturbing trend in various parts of the United States.  A trend that that had developed into an issue.  Even more than an issue, a force to be reckoned with.  I’m speaking of turkeys on the rampage.

Incident number one took place in Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Shortly after 3 p.m. on a Monday afternoon, Lisa Lane drove up to her home after picking up her daughter from middle school. Also in the vehicle, Bubbles, the Lanes’ 1-year-old West Highland white terrier.  And lurking near the house, a flock of approximately 20 turkeys munching on crab apples trying to look inconspicuous.

The turkeys watched the vehicle as it made its way to the driveway.  Upon seeing Bubbles, the turkeys went nuts.  Clearly, there were some lingering issues from previous encounters that fed the vitriol of the frenzied fowl.  They immediately took flight but one turkey didn’t clear the house.  Unintentional?  You decide.

The crazed turkey proceeded to rip through two glass panes and a screen in a second-story bedroom.  Tony McBride, a biologist who heads New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection’s Wild Turkey Research Project, said a turkey getting into a house or flying through a window happens every few years in New Jersey, where there are an estimated 22,000 to 23,000 of the birds.

Shortly after impact, Lisa used her cellphone to call the state police and her husband Jeff, who was at work.  Jeff, in turn, called neighbor Albert Del Cristo.  Del Cristo, obviously experienced in conflict resolution and highly skilled in sizing up a crisis, showed up minutes later wearing camouflage battle gear while carrying a baseball bat.  One imagines the Navy Seals and Special Forces were also placed on alert status.  New Jersey state troopers then arrived with Mary Klink, who provides animal control services in Monmouth County. 

After setting up a plan, Trooper Richard Pogorzelski, Mary, Mary’s husband and Del Cristo entered the home.  What they were about to see was horrifying.

After entering her son Jake’s bedroom, Lisa told reporters “The bird had relieved himself all over….The room was a disaster.  Feathers were all over.  He (Jake) just saved up for this Abercrombie (& Fitch) sweat shirt, and the turkey pooped on it.”

A frenzied, flying, pooping turkey with Thanksgiving around the corner.  Coincidence?

And this turkey was no dummy.  It turns out he was no where to be found.  Get in, wreak havoc, get out.  They’re all that way, aren’t they? 

If that wasn’t enough to confirm my fear the turkeys have a plan, a second incident up the road in New York City pushed me a bit closer to that reality.

The Triborough Bridge crosses the East River and connects Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx.  A few days after the incident at the Lane house, a small, wild turkey wandered, allegedly by accident, onto the bridge.  The turkey brought traffic to a halt for nearly 15 minutes as it ran back and forth, feigning fear, in front of the toll plaza.  Here it is one year later, 1200 miles to the west, and this time two turkeys bring a roadway to a halt.  Is it me or is there something more sinister going on here?

Bridge workers finally cornered the turkey and a construction worker grabbed the psychotic bird.  Metropolitan Transportation Authorities talked with state and city animal authorities and released the turkey into a wooded area on nearby Wards Island which has acres of open land inhabited by pheasants, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks.

Finally, several weeks later, number three.  It was this report that put me over the top.  15 turkeys were spotted huddled together on a suburban transit train platform in northern New Jersey – what is it with the north Jersey-New York City area?  They appeared to be waiting for a train.  Did they have tickets?  Did no one notice them?  Or did they simply overrun the station and take over the platform?

Before the train ever got there, one brave commuter ran at them, screaming as loudly as he could, forcing them off the platform and into a nearby wooded area.

So what of these incidents?  Are they significant?  More troubling, are they in some way connected to the two Super Turkeys many of us spotted on the highway today?  Is the suggestion of a master race of turkeys pure nonsense, or might the combination of these incidents foretell a coming war with the turkeys?

The next time you see a turkey wandering aimlessly alongside a road or in your backyard, ask yourself this question:  Is he really lost, or is he part of a plan bigger than all of us?

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Filed Under: FamilyFoodHolidayshumorLifeSocietyThoughts


About the Author: Christopher Gabriel is the host of the cleverly named Christopher Gabriel Program on AM 970 WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. You can hear him weekdays from 9 to Noon. As a writer and humorist, his work has been been published online by the Chicago Sun-Times, Reuters and publications within the Sun-Times News Group.

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  1. Beth says:

    Wild turkeys are the new Canada Goose.

    Our dog rustled up a wild turkey and wounded it. My hubby had to wring it’s neck and we used the unfortunate situation to demonstrate to our kids where our food comes from. They plucked the bird, my hubby cleaned it and I roasted it. I had a really hard time eating it, but the rest of the family LOVED it.


  2. This post was so funny to me! I love crazy animal stories! I’m gonna link to it from my blog perhaps tomorrow. I already posted about wild turkeys on Stamford Talk, but that was almost a year ago, so I think it’s time for another.


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