Turkeys and other wildlife in Cambridge

A lot of you have probably bumped into wild turkeys around town in ever increasing numbers over the past few years. At first it was kind of exotic but for a lot of people it’s become something of a major hassle. But because turkeys are state wildlife (it is the state’s official game bird with a hunting season), rather than rodents (like, say, rats that you can poison), there are limits to what can do about them as they attack your garden or peck at your car. The state has a webpage devoted to living with wild turkeys that has tips about how to mitigate their problems and Cambridge does as well, but unless a turkey is a danger to people or is hurt, you really can’t do much to get rid of it besides try to shoo it away or put up a fence around your garden.

After talking to a lot of people, I’ve found that, depending on where you are in Cambridge, concerns about wildlife range from turkeys to deer to geese to squirrels, racoons and coyotes. Even, in some places, to rabbits, which, cute as they may be, can wreak havoc on a garden.

The Cambridge Animal Commission is, sort of by default, our local wildlife management agency but they don’t have a lot of power because wildlife is generally covered by state laws. But, with climate change, dogs on leashes, demographic shifts and other factors changing where wildlife lives (and how much of it lives there), it is time for Cambridge to review state wildlife laws and, perhaps, work with the state to figure out if we, and other urban areas, need regulatory programs that are different from, for example, Great Barrington 

The first step is for all of us to understand what laws currently govern wildlife management and what options and constraints we face in dealing with related issues.

To that end, I put in a Council Order last night asking the City to review wildlife management issues and to report back to the Council with information to help guide us as we try to figure out what, if anything, to do with turkeys and other wildlife, both native and non-native, that may have started to become problematic in densely populated Cambridge.


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