Wild turkeys wreaking havoc in Toms River has spurred mountains of news coverage from across the country, comments from a professional baseball player and sent phone lines at town hall ringing off the hook. Next week, if all things go according to plan, the problem will finally be over.
Toms River officials told Shorebeat the state Division of Fish and Wildlife was in town Tuesday, in the Holiday City at Silverton community, assessing the situation, and have given the go-ahead for traps to be set next week so the wild birds can be removed.
Township spokeswoman Stacy Georgaklis said one phase of the development – Phase One – was approved for the trapping operation and the state is currently reviewing other areas to see where traps should be set. Phase Two of the development has not requested traps be set.
A Shorebeat reporter this week saw the wild turkeys firsthand. They weren’t being aggressive, but they were causing some tough moments in traffic for residents as a large bird refused to move out of the way of traffic, forcing cars to navigate around it. One driver warned, “Don’t get too close, they’ll come after you.”
Township animal control officers were unable to solve the problem internally since they do not possess state trapping licenses, which are required to capture the birds.
The birds will be relocated to another part of the state, officials said, after they made national news over the past week. Major League Baseball free agent third baseman Todd Frazier, who is a township resident, voiced his own concerns online about wild turkeys in his neighborhood off Old Freehold Road. Meanwhile, Georgaklis, who handles press relations for the township, said she has been getting nearly nonstop calls from reporters across the country hoping to do a story on the strange situation – especially in light of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. On Tuesday night, the turkeys were even featured on Fox News Channel’s “The Five” nightly talk show, with cast members adding quips about the wild birds.
According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, a spring hunting season for turkeys has yielded exponentially increasing harvests over the last two decades as the species has grown in numbers, skyrocketing from 71 in 1981 to 2,739 in 2019. The state’s population of the large birds – which occasionally can even fly up into a tree – has risen from only 6,000 in 1985 to 23,000 birds in 2019.