SOMERSET, NJ - Are wild turkeys a nuisance that need to be put down? Or beautiful animals that need to be left alone?
It depends on who you ask.
Residents came out to speak out against wild turkeys during Tuesday's council meeting.
Local resident, Louisa Schein feels the turkeys are dangerous and says the township should do more.
"We were reporting a dangerous public safety issue, especially on behalf of a child who is being attacked getting to his school bus, and we were told there are two sides to the issue," Schein told TAPinto. "The township needs to do more to prevent feeding, including enforcing the ordinance that prohibits it. Feeding makes the turkeys unafraid and aggressive, and we can no longer go outside our own homes."
Another local resident, Ernest Renda, says he has not been personally attacked by the wild turkeys in the area of Wilson Road, but believes they are a public safety problem.
Renda says he considers the turkeys aggressive domesticated creatures and he requested that the "township take steps to put them down." Renda also said the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife recommended baiting and trapping the turkeys, but he says it doesn't work, because "there is other free food around the neighborhood."
Township Manager, Bob Vornlocker said the situation with the turkeys, present "some difficulty" for the township because he has received several emails and letters from residents "wishing the township take no action" against the turkeys.
Vornlocker read excerpts from one of the letters from a resident who has lived in the township for 40 years and says their family has never been harassed by these 'beautiful turkeys."
Vornlocker further added the responsibility of managing wildlife falls to the State of New Jersey. He said they have contacted the NJDFW and recommendations were made for the residents to bait, trap and relocate the animals.
Mayor, Phil Kramer said when animals become a danger his heart goes out to those the residents impacted.
Kramer consulted with Township Attorney, Louis N. Rainone and was told there is an ordinance in accordance with a state law prohibiting the feeding of wildlife.
"No person shall within the Township of Franklin, purposefully or knowingly feed deer, Canada geese or wild turkey through ground level feeding stations, salt licks or other established and permanent means by which to feed wildlife, except in accordance with New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife provisions," the ordinance reads.
Ward 3 Councilman, Charles Onyejiaka suggested the township issue more hunting licenses or encourage the hunting of the turkeys.
"You have a number of residents in this neighborhood who are saying this is not a safety issue, that these are wild animals and they want them present in their yards and neighborhood," Vornlocker said. "That's the problem that we are presented with."
Kramer and the council ended the conversation agreeing to do a mass mailing to the residents reminding them not to feed the turkeys. He also called on people who were for the turkeys to contact him directly.
The Franklin Township Police Department issued the following warning to residents on Feb. 14:
Recently we have had some complaints of aggressive wild turkeys in the area of Wilson Road and Masada Road. Generally, wild turkeys will avoid contact with humans, occasionally though, they can be aggressive. Our Animal Control Officers are working with area residents and NJ Fish and Wildlife Officers to attempt to resolve this issue.
We have attached some websites with some tips on how to stay safe.
Have a news tip, or feedback? Email FranklinTownship@tapinto.net or call our tip line 908-279-0303 ext. 257.