Terror By Turkey: Wild Turkeys Have A Long History Of Attacking Humans

Terror turkeys

While on the surface, the thought of being attacked by a turkey sounds laughable, this post by the National Park Service got me thinking about some stories I read awhile back which show just how big of a problem they can be…

Turkeys are native to North America and are currently found in every US state but Alaska, with an estimated 7 million wild toms and hens roaming the various forests of the country.

Pretty much every state has at least a limited turkey hunting season, but sometimes, the birds turn the tables on us humans are set their sights (and beaks) for revenge, probably due to us eating about 46 million turkeys every Thanksgiving.

With Thanksgiving being tomorrow, let’s take a trip down memory lane at a few stories of wild turkeys wreaking havoc on people throughout the country.

Menacing The Mailman – Scotch Plains, New Jersey

The mailman has always been the staple of a community, but a wild turkey in New Jersey didn’t seem to think so back in 2019.

According to CBS News, a particularly angry turkey caused mail and Christmas present delivery to be delayed when it began targeting mail carriers on the normally quiet streets of Scotch Plains.

A video was posted online showing one of these attacks, but residents also reported the bird chasing children away from bus stops and fearing the bird so much that they began carrying golf clubs outdoors in case the bird turned its sights on them.

The local government decided to euthanize the bird but a government shutdown forced that plan to be put on hold and I am unable to find details on if the bird went away on its own or was eventually taken care of.

Pecking At The Pregnant Lady – Cambridge, Massachusetts

Getting attacked by a flock of turkeys once is bad enough, but what about twice in a week? Throw in the fact that Kenda Carlson was 7 months pregnant and you quickly see just how much of a problem this was.

The first incident occurred while she was taking a spring time walk. All was normal until it wasn’t and suddenly she was surrounded by at least 5 wild turkeys, who started pecking mercilessly at her.

She told Boston25:

“One followed me, then two more followed. Next thing, I’m surrounded by turkeys pecking at me. They had me surrounded, and I hunched over and took baby steps. Like, do I run? Play dead? What’s the best reaction?

I screamed, I screamed and screamed. Thankfully, a neighbor came out with a broom in her hand.”

The attack left her with numerous welts on the back of her legs but that was the extent of her injuries.

Then, just a few days later, she was walking to work when another (or maybe the same) flock of turkeys did the exact same thing. Again, she wasn’t seriously injured, but developed a paranoia every time she sees a turkey, which are apparently quite prevalent in the area.

Mayhem In Minnesota – Coon Rapids, Minnesota

It’s not just the suburbs that have had problems with turkeys, trailer parks have also gotten in on the action.

A community in Coon Rapids, Minnesota has been struggling with a tom turkey ever since it took a liking to the mobile home park around Thanksgiving of 2021. It never left and has grown more aggressive as time went on.

Resident Rachael Gross spoke to CBS News about the incident:

“This turkey has literally taken over our life. This turkey attacks me every single day. Follows me, goes up my stairs, tries to get into my house. When I leave in my car, it follows my car. I have to carry my broom and my water and my golf club everywhere I go.”

Another neighbor, Emily Ahlsten, added:

“My one-year-old grand baby just moved in with us and I’m afraid to even take her outside especially when the weather gets warmer, like we can’t have people over, we can’t have a barbeque. The kids that walk to the bus stop in the morning I have to come out and help them. But now they are smart and they carry sticks.”

The Department of Natural Resources was contacted to try and help remove the turkey, but they said they were unable to remove it because the turkey would just continue its bad behavior in whatever location it was dropped off in.

Attack In The Capitol – Washington, DC

There’s a lot of people who have problems with cyclists on the road, but few have ever taken action like this turkey did in Washington DC last year.

A large tom didn’t much like the bike traffic on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail near Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens and decided to attack multiple people, including Dede Folarin, who was nearly knocked off his bike and then captured a video of the same bird attacked another woman just moments later.

He spoke to NBC Washington about the attack:

“Just riding along the path, this gigantic turkey just kind of, like, jumps up towards my face … almost claws me in the face. So, kind of knocked me off my bike, and then it proceeded to chase me around for, like, five minutes. I put the phone down and picked up the biggest twig I could find and started whacking the bird twice.”

Turns out, there’s actually a healthy population of turkeys in the DC area and sightings are nothing new, but this attack was the first of its kind in the area.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock