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As turkeys become more active around Massachusetts during their mating season, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife on Thursday gave the public some "turkey tips," suggestions for preventing conflicts with the birds rather than tasty bits of turkey tenderloin.
MassWildlife said turkeys might be seen acting aggressively by pecking, following, or exhibiting other intimidating behavior towards people, especially during their spring mating season. Because turkey flocks are organized by pecking order, they may attempt to dominate or attack people viewed as subordinates, officials said.
"The best thing you can do to prevent conflicts with turkeys is to stop feeding them," MassWildlife Turkey Biologist Dave Scarpitti said. "Feeding turkeys, whether intentional or not, can cause turkeys to act tame and may lead to bold or aggressive behavior, especially in the breeding season from March through May. Once this behavior is established, it can be very difficult to change."
Any person who comes into contact with aggressive turkeys — like the pregnant woman who recently described to the Boston Globe why she carries a large golf umbrella at all times after being pecked and followed by a flock of turkeys — is encouraged to scare or threaten the birds with loud noises or with water from a garden hose.
"A leashed dog may also be an effective deterrent," MassWildlife said.
MassWildlife, at the end of its "spring turkey tips" advisory, suggested another way of dealing with aggressive turkeys.
"MassWildlife also reminds the public that the wild turkey is the state's official game bird and that the spring turkey hunting season begins Monday, April 29 and continues through Saturday, May 25," the agency wrote. "Licensed hunters with a turkey permit can harvest up to two bearded birds."
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