NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A turkey takeover on Staten Island has finally ended.
A homeowner had the wild bird and its eggs removed from his yard, but the help came from an unlikely source.READ MORE: Connecticut Becomes 19th State To Legalize Recreational Marijuana
For weeks, Richard Gambardella felt like a prisoner in his own home. He had to be careful walking outside because wild turkey laid eggs under a bush near his front door.
The protective mama bird was territorial, and Gambardella was hitting on one dead end after another trying to get help.
“I called 311 and they told me to call the ASPCA, then I got them back and they told me to call 911 but I don’t think this is a dire emergency to take away from 911,” he told CBS2.
Gambardella was eventually directed to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, who issued a special permit so he could have the turkey and her eggs removed.
The DEC doesn’t do that work themselves, however, so early Wednesday a group of volunteers from the And-Hof Animal Sanctuary arrived to take care of things.
“We’re trying to do it in the least invasive way,” Kurt Andernach from the sanctuary said.
The group waited for the turkey they named “Matilda” to get comfortable sitting on top of her eggs. They then draped a net across Gambardella’s front yard so she couldn’t run away before a brave volunteer went in to grab her.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Will You Get Another Relief Payment?
Fortunately, the hen didn’t put up a fight and she was placed in an animal carrier without incident while her 18 soon-to-be baby chicks were packed into an incubator.
“Usually it’s much more difficult and often I have to admit not a pretty sight because these are wild animals,” Andernach said. “These are wild animals, the last thing they want is to be captured.”
The turkey and her eggs are now headed upstate New York to the And-Hof Sanctuary, and the homeowner says he’s incredibly grateful.
Regardless, Gambardella says there’s still a problem with wild turkeys in the neighborhood.
“If this was in the Theater District or Times Square or Gracie Mansion they’d be gone,” he said. “Here we’re living with it 17, 18 years.”
Other residents agree.
“Everybody likes to see turkeys in the street, but try living with turkeys,” resident Jeff Weiner said. “It’s not the same and the city doesn’t do anything about it. It’s very surprising.”
Neither the city nor the state provides any funds to move the birds. And-Hof is footing the entire bill to retrieve, transport, and house the birds at their farm in Greene County. Gambardella hopes all the attention he’s gotten will lead to change in procedure so he and his neighbors don’t have to go through this again.MORE NEWS: Surveillance Video Shows Inwood Robbery, Shooting That Left Milton Grant, 34, Dead
In the past four years, And-Hof has spent $120,000 to remove and house nearly 200 turkeys from Staten Island.