As Turkeys Take Over Campus, Some Colleges Are More Thankful Than Others

As Turkeys Take Over Campus, Some Colleges Are More Thankful Than Others
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As Turkeys Take Over Campus, Some Colleges Are More Thankful Than Others

As Turkeys Take Over Campus, Some Colleges Are More Thankful Than Others

Minneapolis – They are relaxing next to bike racks and outdoor dormitories. They are walking in Harvard Yard. And, yes, they sometimes flutter their wings and accuse innocent students.

From the riverside of the University of Minnesota to the forests of the University of California, Santa Cruz, all over the country, wild turkeys have gone to college. And they seem to like it. Probably too much.

Once a rarity in the United States, Turkey has become one of the best conservation success stories of the last half century. But as efforts to expand the range of birds grew in rural areas, so did turkeys roaming the cities, settling in alleys, parks, backyards, and higher education institutions.

“College campuses are just ideal residences,” said David Drake, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and extension wildlife expert, where large herds like to hang out near apartments for graduate students. “You’ve got a mixture of forest dots and open grasslands and things like that. No one is hunting. ”

This is a good life for a big bird. In Minnesota, Turkey crushed small berries near the student body this month and took a walk on the sidewalk, not disappointed by the Undergrads going after them. Tom Ritzer, the university’s assistant director for landcare, said a herd of turkeys, also called rafters, sometimes tear and damage the planting bed. But at other times, too much turkey fodder warns groundkeepers of an outbreak of Grub.

“It is a kind of blessing and a curse,” said Shri. Ritzer said the university’s 22-year-old veteran, who said the last several years have seen a large number of turkeys. “I think it’s probably better than coyotes,” he added.

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Turkey has become a minor celebrity in many colleges. Bird-celebrating Instagram accounts have loyal followers in Wisconsin, where they have been photographed on playgrounds and parking lots, and in Minnesota, where a bird was caught peeking out of the window of a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant near campus.

“It’s almost like our campus pet,” said Amanda Eichel, who runs the @turkeysofumn Instagram page with her classmate Paige Robinson. Most of the photos they post are submitted by fellow students, but only the best cuts.

“We have dozens of live messages from pictures and videos that we haven’t posted yet,” said Mrs Robinson, a sophomore who said she only saw turkeys at the zoo growing up on Long Island and had access when they seemed to be turning. Everywhere in Minneapolis.

Living together with college poultry is not always easy. At California Polytechnic State University, the campus police department is called in from time to time about turkeys chasing people. At the University of Michigan, a state wildlife official killed a well-known turkey two years ago that was harassing bikers and joggers. And in Wisconsin, Drs. Drake said at least two aggressive Toms were killed after repeatedly intimidating students.

Even for Turkey fans, the chase can be terrible.

“There’s an element of humor here, because, hey, it’s Turkey,” said Audrey Evans, a doctoral student from Wisconsin who runs @turkeys_of_uw_madison on Instagram. “But your fighting or flight propensity begins.”

Whether or not Turkey prefers campus life over other urban settings is a matter of debate.

Richard Pollack, a bird watcher at Harvard, said Turkey regularly patrols the streets around campus and peeks at car hubcaps. Once, he said, a turkey entered the academic building through an open door and exited without incident.

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But the turkey seems to be everywhere in Cambridge, Mass., Harvard’s home, and Dr. These birds can be more ubiquitous outside of campus, Pollack said.

“I don’t know if turkeys are more abundant or if they come to campus more often than other regions,” he said. Polak said the university’s senior environmental public health officer. But because of the wide open spaces and the large amount of pedestrian traffic, he said, “people are more likely to see them on campus.”

They certainly see. In Sacramento State, an opinion writer in a student newspaper once wrote a column urging people to accept birds. At Fairfield University in Connecticut, where a Inactive Twitter account Once chronicled by campus rafters, birds are a point of pride. And Lane Community College in Oregon has an official campus policy for turkeys, meaning they will not be “fed intentionally or unintentionally.”

College is a bit of a formal study of turkey, but there is widespread agreement that their numbers have exploded over the last decade or so, on campus after campus.

Alex Jones, who manages the Campus Natural Reserve in Santa Cruz, California, said he did not see Turkey as a student in the 1990s. Now they are everywhere, sometimes in dozens of groups: outside the dining hall, on the branches of redwood trees, and often, blocking traffic on the street.

“The funniest thing for me is that they take crosswalks sometimes,” Mr. Jones said.

That means turkeys feel at home, Mr. Jones said. The Santa Cruz campus consists of large wooded areas and grasslands and is adjacent to state forests. The absence of a hunter may also help.

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At Harvard, Dr. Pollack said he also understands why the birds are returning, although building managers complain about the abundance they leave behind.

“If I were a turkey, I’d probably find the courtyard and the huge Harvard Yard a really great place,” he said. Said Pollack. “Too much food. There is so much to see. ”

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