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Wild, car-chasing turkeys deemed a 'nuisance' in The Crescent

A wild turkey confronts Bill Capshaw's vehicle after circling it several times and pursuing the vehicle while the vehicle was in motion for an entire block while at The Crescent in Bluffton on Dec. 30, 2014.
A wild turkey confronts Bill Capshaw's vehicle after circling it several times and pursuing the vehicle while the vehicle was in motion for an entire block while at The Crescent in Bluffton on Dec. 30, 2014. Theophil Syslo

Wild turkeys are making themselves at home in The Crescent community -- walking through residents' yards, flying up on roofs and even chasing cars.

To many of the residents, however, the birds are unwelcome guests.

The number of turkeys frequenting the community has grown in recent years. As a result, The Crescent is working with the state's Department of Natural Resources to remove the "nuisance" birds.

"We can live with turkeys and have lived with them, that's not the issue," said Bill Capshaw, safety and security chief of The Crescent's Property Owners' Association. "The problem is that all of a sudden we are inundated with a large number of birds and they are becoming a nuisance, possibly even a danger."

In the past, 30 to 40 turkeys roamed the community, Capshaw said. That number has grown to as many as 100 in the last two years.

The birds have become aggressive; critics cite the car chasing as an example.

After receiving numerous complaints from residents, Capshaw contacted DNR several months ago.

The original plan was to capture and relocate the turkeys to Daufuskie Island, which has seen its wild turkey population dwindle in recent years. After observing the birds, however, DNR felt they were "not normal" wild turkeys and had concerns about relocating them to another populated area, according to Caphsaw.

He doesn't know details of the new DNR plan though he said about 20 of the gobblers have been trapped and removed in recent weeks.

Some residents fear the turkeys may be destroyed, though department officials could not be reached Monday or Tuesday to determine if that was a possibility.

Not everyone wants the birds gone.

Resident Jim Fearon is one of them.

"These turkeys were here first before the developments popped up and now they are learning to live throughout their changing environment," said Fearon, who has lived in the community for nine years. "They are natural wildlife, and I love to have them here. What's coming next? Are the squirrels going to be removed?"

Joe Chapman -- who has lived on land behind The Crescent and Belfair Plantation for decades -- said the turkeys have been on the land since it was used to grow soy beans.

He keeps seed and grows clover on his land to feed them. They can do as they please on his 300 acres.

What Chapman does not understand is why DNR is calling the birds "not so wild" turkeys.

"People don't realize they have taken the turkey's land," he said. "I can understand the turkeys not acting normal because they don't have their normal habitat anymore. But that doesn't mean they need to get rid of perfectly good turkeys."

Capshaw said the community does not plan to remove all of the birds. It will, however, take steps to control the population. He doesn't want them harmed in any way, but said he must make resident safety the first priority.

Belfair, which also has wild turkeys, has no plans to remove any of the birds and does not consider them a nuisance, said director of community management Dan Duryea.

While their numbers have also grown in Belfair, he's heard no complaints from residents there.

"We like and want to preserve the wildlife and coexist with it," said Duryea, who has been with Belfair for 16 years. "If you leave them alone, then they will do the same, and I think it is just as easy to coexist with them as it is to bother them."

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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