Toms River, NJ

The Growing Wild Turkey Problem in New Jersey Neighborhoods: There are an Estimated 21,000 Birds, Many Causing Problems

Zack Love

Large populations of wild turkeys that roam freely throughout New Jersey neighborhoods have been causing ongoing problems for years for local residents, yet very little is really being done to solve the problem.

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Wild turkeysPhoto byDaina Krumins from Pixabay

Residents in New Jersey may still be finishing up the turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving 2022, but are constantly reminded when they look outside that wild turkeys are running amuck in New Jersey neighborhoods.

NJ.com reported that homeowners in Holiday City are still having problems with wild turkeys, and Toms River wildlife says “they can’t move them.”

Little is being done to ease the burdens on residents.

A Brief History of Wild Turkeys in New Jersey

NJ.com reported that in 1977, New Jersey Fish & Wildlife (NJFW) released 22 birds into the wild with the intention of restoring the disappearing wild turkey population.

By the year 2006, the state estimated there were about 23,000 wild turkeys in New Jersey, and in 2022, the wild turkey population is around 21,000 wild birds.

New Jersey Fish & Wildlife are in charge of controlling the wild turkey population, which means they can issue more or less hunting licenses for “harvesting” the wild birds each season. in 2022, hunters harvested 2,428 wild turkeys, and in 2021, they harvested 2,327 of the wild birds.

Jimmy Sloan, a bird biologist for the NJ Dept. of Environmental Protection, says that wild turkeys are found in all 21 of New Jersey’s counties, and are a “highly adaptable bird that can live in many different habitats.” (Source: NJ.com)

This would include the wild turkeys causing problems in Toms River.

Jimmy Sloan has personally responded to nuisance complaints in Deptford, Sicklerville, and Holiday City communities, “where wild turkeys have been running rampant since 2019.” (Source: NJ.com)

Former MLB Player Todd Frazier Having a Wild Turkey Problem in 2019

NJ.com reported that in 2019, Todd Frazier, a former Major League Baseball player was vocal about how the wild turkeys were being a nuisance on his property and that “his family was attacked by a couple of them a year ago.”

He tweeted a photo of the birds all around his vehicle (seen in the photo tweeted below).

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Wild turkeys on Todd Frazier's propertyPhoto byTodd Frazier (@FlavaFraz21 on Twitter)

Todd Frazier said:

“Toms River and the Toms River wildlife say they can’t move them. That’s ridiculous. They have come close to harming my family and friends, ruined my cars, trashed my yard and much more.” Todd Frazier tweeted (Source: @FlavaFraz21 on Twitter)

Most people would have an issue with wild turkeys congregating on and around their vehicles, as seen in the photo tweeted by Todd Frazier.

Residents: ‘There’s Still a Problem’ with Wild Turkeys in New Jersey

New Jersey residents (especially those living in Toms River) are not getting much help with the wild turkey problem.

NJ.com reported that since that 2019 issue, “the state removed some of the birds“ but “there’s still a problem in Holiday City in Toms River,” according to the residents.

CBS New York posted the tweet (seen below) after wild turkeys were taking over one resident’s yard in Ocean County, NJ in 2019.

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Image of wild turkeys in Ocean County, NJ neighborhood in 2019Photo byCBS New York (@CBSNewYork on Twitter)

Two recent examples of wild turkey problems in New Jersey:

  • Resident Alice Agnello of Holiday City has had three close encounters that were “intimidating.” One time the wild turkey grabbed her pocketbook. She ran into the garage and closed the garage door. Weeks later, a wild turkey ran out in front of her car, and she had to slam on the brakes, and another time a wild turkey started pecking at her car.
  • Resident Fannie Mae of Montclair says the same wild turkey keeps handing around her house for the last two years. It returned and made its presence known in her backyard last week, and the bird continues to defecate on her front porch. She said:
“It’s a ‘she. And I think it’s the same bird. I can tell she’s back because she pooped on the front porch.” -Fannie Mae, Montclair resident (Source: NJ.com)

Further Investigation on NJFW Website Into Reporting Wild Turkeys

NJ.com reported it is illegal to poach wild turkeys because they are a managed species, but NJFW will only “trap problem birds and release them back into the wild — but only if the turkey is doing significant property damage, like tearing up the landscape or denting cars with their beaks.”

Further investigation into claims reported by residents to NJ.com appears to be true (regarding little to no action being taken if reported to NJFW).

If a person goes to the NJFW website and goes to: “There’s an animal in my yard and I want someone to remove it.” under Frequently Asked Questions, here is the NJFW answer:

“We do not move wildlife because wild animals occur everywhere there is habitat for them. Removing animals generally results in other animals moving in instead. Many wildlife species that people fear are really quite harmless when left alone, and can even be beneficial to have around. For example, black rat snakes occur just about everywhere in NJ, including backyards where they feed on rodents and invertebrates and may find shelter in crawl spaces, around foundations, or in vegetation where they feel safe. Like most wildlife, they avoid people as best they can.” -NJFW (Source NJFW FAQ page)

To be clear, the NJFW does not directly address wild turkeys on its FAQ page, but its general answer is to “let it move along.”

The only problem with this, is those wild turkeys stay within a general area, and will often return to locations within their respective territory.

It is important that NJFW is taking complaints from residents seriously in dealing with wild turkeys that cause havoc and damage in New Jersey neighborhoods.

If you have had a negative experience with wild turkeys in your neighborhood, please share this in the comments section.

Sources

CBS New York (Twitter): @CBSNewYork

Cowen, Richard. “Wild turkeys — once endangered — are now booming in N.J. and terrorizing some neighborhoods.” NJ.com. 24 November 2022.

Goldman, Jeff. “Wild turkeys menacing residents of N.J. town to be trapped and removed.” NJ.com. 13 November 2022.

NJ Fish & Wildlife official website. FAQ page.

Todd Frazier (Twitter): @FlavaFraz21

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Zack covers interesting and inspiring news stories that impact local communities. He has a bachelor's degree and an MBA.

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