Wild Turkey Briefly Graces 8th Street With Its Presence

All photos by Steve Gold

On Sunday afternoon, residents on 8th Street in Downtown Jersey City were treated to a rare sight as a wild turkey was spotted sitting on telephone pole wires.

A resident called the city’s Emergency Services department, and its officers were first to arrive on the scene. The officers had no luck lassoing the bird, so they used a tranquilizer gun but were ultimately unable to corral the turkey, which ultimately scampered off into the woods under the Turnpike. When Animal Control director Joe Frank showed up on the scene, he said the officers should have just left the bird alone, adding that it had appeared in the area sporadically for years.

Wild turkeys have had a sort of renaissance in New Jersey, and have therefore been appearing more often in urban areas — late last month several of the birds were spotted leisurely strolling through Newark’s North Ward.

According to the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, wild turkeys disappeared from the state in the mid-1800s. The division, along with the NJ Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, reintroduced the animal in 1977 by releasing 22 birds. The division now estimates the state’s wild turkey population at between 20,000 and 23,000.

Jon Whiten

co-founded the Jersey City Independent. He is currently the Deputy Director of New Jersey Policy Perspective.