Turkeys may be on pretty much every American's Thanksgiving shopping list, but wild turkeys are a whole other story. While sales of the big-breasted birds surge every holiday season, the wild variety is showing up in backyards and parking lots this year from Maryland to California.
And that's not exactly welcome news for many residents, who complain the birds cause various problems for people who would rather just encounter them in the freezer aisle or on dinner table.
In California's Bay Area, wild turkeys are leaving massive piles of excrement for their human counterparts to clean up, Vice reported Friday. In Frederick, Maryland, turkeys have been spotted flying directly into vehicles and chasing humans. And in Northern Virginia they have been seen gobbling along the side of Interstate 66, traipsing through yards in the suburbs and stopping in at Trader Joe's parking lots, according to the Washington Post.
Wild turkeys almost went the way of the dodo 100 years ago but are becoming more and more common now in populated areas. The resurgence of wild turkeys may be a nuisance for homemakers and commuters but are a sign a sustained effort in recent decades to help restore their populations has been successful, the Post reported.
Katie Penic, pastor at Faith United Church of Christ in Frederick, saw turkeys roaming free through the parking lot of her parish, the Post reported.
“Honestly I’ve never seen something that nuts in my entire life,” Penic told the newspaper. “We’re all city people. It never occurred to me that I’d see turkeys outside the church, even in Frederick.”
In the Bay Area, wild turkeys have stolen pet food, messed up residents' yards and scratched paint on cars, Vice said. But their droppings may be the worst aspect of the California resurgence.
“A turkey turd is huge,” turkey hunter Bruce Wurth told the East Bay Express this month. “If you’ve got 50 or 60 birds standing around your front yard, all pooping, it makes a huge mess."
Meanwhile, the price of turkeys on which Americans feas on Thanksgiving is on the rise. A turkey dinner will cost an average of $49.41 this year, representing a jump of about 37 cents from 2013, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.