Over the past few years, the number of turkey attacks on humans has gone up exponentially. In California, turkeys have attacked hikers, bikers, and Laker girls with equal ferocity, culminating in a violent and largely senseless demonstration at the Thanksgiving Day parade in New York during which the NYPD shot and killed three turkeys and an innocent Hasidic passerby who apparently walked into the crossfire by accident. The police apologized to the family of Mordechai Feldmann, promising a full investigation of the circumstances of the shooting, and promptly gave the bodies of the three turkeys to a homeless shelter for Thanksgiving dinner. In Cranford, New Jersey, a mob of angry turkeys surrounded a Postal Service delivery vehicle and tried to attack the driver inside, who fought the aggrieved gobblers off with a rolled up copy of Vogue, injuring four of his attackers as he fled the scene. There does not seem to be any particular reason for this animus towards the Postal Service, other than for the same reasons we all feel animus towards the Postal Service, and why shouldn’t turkeys complain about the service the way the rest of us do; it’s a free country, after all.
So, why are wild turkeys are behaving in such an antisocial manner? Apologists for the turkeys point out that the wild turkey almost went the way of the dodo, the passenger pigeon, and the Brooklyn Dodgers, and expecting them to feel any sort of gratitude towards the species that nearly caused their extinction may be a little too much to expect of many turkeys. On the other hand, that same species is also responsible for bringing the wild turkey back from the biological brink, using the force of law to protect the previously unprotected birds from the untender mercies of their hominid compatriots. And the sudden aggressiveness of the wild turkey is not spreading to their domesticated brethren, who have a greater cause of complaint than their feral relatives. After all, the wild turkey population does not face an annual decimation every November. The domesticated turkey has never faced any danger of extinction; in fact, without humans the domesticated bird would quickly go extinct—the bird’s breast is so big it cannot successfully mate without human intervention. So, the domestic bird is a grateful and docile creature, thankful for the free food and the sex and therefore willing to turn a blind eye to the more depressing aspects of a turkey’s existence.
Beyond the sheer ingratitude of these creatures is the appalling attitude towards their depredations by municipal officials whose task it is to uphold the laws of this country. When your average American hears that birds are attacking innocent passersby they see the same mental picture that I do, that picture being Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. The seagulls and the crows were mightily annoyed about something in that film, although I don’t remember offhand just what that something was. Hitchcock made the picture in the early 1960’s, so the birds couldn’t have been protesting the war in Vietnam and it’s unlikely that all of those birds were dangerous radicals; the HUAC hearings in the late 1940’s and the subsequent show business blacklisting of suspect performers pretty much swept all the left wing birds out of Hollywood, except for those few that voted Labor in the 1945 general election.
And gulls and crows are not turkeys, of course; no one eats crow unless they absolutely have to and while most guys want a gull just like the gull that married dear old Dad, most people are in no way prepared to countenance allowing turkeys to break the laws of the land with impunity. This, however, is what a good many police chiefs around the country are prepared to allow. Where, the honest citizen must ask, are the Bat Mastersons and Wyatt Earps of yesteryear, steely-eyed lawmen willing to stare down a recalcitrant turkey and throw its backside into the local hoosegow if they dared take a step beyond the limits of the law? Today’s lawmen, or should I say law enforcement officers, to avoid the damaging charge of gender bias, do not want to do anything about these turkeys for fear of upsetting children and angering animal rights organizations. When will the leaders of America’s municipalities finally show some moral backbone and stand up to this vicious tide of avian violence? I do not know, and frankly, I am not hopeful. You’d think that the people running Cranford, New Jersey would at least have the good sense of changing the name of their town to Cranberry, New Jersey; it may not be much of a deterrent, but it certainly beats doing nothing at all, which seems to be the current strategy. A good many turkeys, I think, would have second thoughts about going to a place called Cranberry.