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Turkeys are ‘strategizing’ in Cambridge and officials want to do something about it

A turkey crossed a streeet in Cambridge.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File 2016

The Harvard Square turkey just got put on notice.

During a recent Cambridge City Council meeting, elected officials discussed a problem that has become all too familiar for municipalities in Greater Boston: the abundance of feathered creatures that walk the streets like they own the place, threatening residents who cross their paths.

The council voted in favor of a policy order requesting City Manager Louis DePasquale to speak with the director of the Animal Commission about rules regarding urban wildlife management. The request asks that the city “provide guidance to residents unsure of how to mitigate the nuisance from certain species.”


Councilor Craig Kelley said the genesis of the order came from the “angst” people seem to be feeling about wild turkeys in suburban settings.

“There was a girl at church on Sunday who was telling me how she got chased. She and her dog got chased by a wild turkey,” he said during the meeting. Kelley said unlike rats or mice, turkeys are a wildlife species that is governed by state law. Because of that, there’s a limit to what the city can actually do about the turkeys, it seems.

“Understanding what those limits are and where we might need to seek assistance from the state in getting some special rules to manage the populations, I think is an important discussion to have,” he said. “I don’t know where it would go, where it will go, where it should go. But putting all the answers about where we are now all in one place seems useful.”

Before voting on the policy order, others shared their own run-ins with the local turkey population.

City Councilor Dennis Carlone said he was at a community meeting recently when people told him that they were being harassed by turkeys. When Carlone walked out of that meeting, he happened to come face-to-face with the enemy.


“It was like the turkey was waiting for me,” he said. “They’re clearly strategizing. And I agree, we have to think of some humane way to deal with this.”

While the discussion focused mostly on the bold birds, officials also pointed out that a more friendly group of creatures has also been running amok in Cambridge: rabbits. “I don’t know about the rest of you, but my neighborhood is overrun by bunnies,” said Kelley. “They’re cuter than wild turkeys, but they eat absolutely everything we try to plant.”

A turkey stood at a doorway in Cambridge.raig F. Walker/Globe Staff/file 2016

Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.