RIDGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Turkeys are rapidly multiplying on Long Island.

The Department of Environmental Conservation believes there could be upwards of 6,000 roaming the area, so it’s now asking residents to help keep track.

The eastern wild turkey is a part of the Suffolk County landscape, but now if residents spot a bird on their lawn, they’re asked to report it.

Wild turkeys are rapidly multiplying on Long Island. (Credit: CBS2)

The DEC is looking to count and collect information on the turkeys by trapping and studying them on site.

There are a variety of different ways the DEC catches the turkeys.

Whether experts use a cannon to shoot a net out across a field or a handheld trap for a closer capture, the turkeys are never hurt. They are immediately studied, tagged and released.

The DEC will then use the information collected to determine whether the population is sustainable. If not, it will likely introduce a spring hunting season, something that is popular across the rest of the state.

“We want to make sure that we’re doing the right thing for the species and ecosystem, and the first step to determining whether or not we can have a huntable season is to get better population size estimates,” said Chip Hamilton with the DEC.

The turkeys on the island are primarily eastern wild turkeys. Most of the turkeys on the island are native to North America. They are extremely common in the town of Ridge and dozens roam the Brookhaven National Laboratory campus, but when it comes to whether or not they should go, Suffolk County residents are torn.

Some told CBS2 off-camera the turkeys don’t bother anyone, but others would like to see them gone.

“We’ve heard both sides of the coin. Folks that love seeing the birds in their neighborhood and folks that don’t want them there [because] they’re causing impacts to agriculture, landscaping,” Hamilton said.

The biggest complaints are about turkeys ruining lawns or pecking at cars. The DEC hopes this population study can help determine whether the birds are causing more harm than good.

The count is expected to take two years, depending on how quickly the DEC can trap birds.

If you spot a bird, call the DEC at 631-444-0310 or email Wildlife.r1@dec.ny.gov.

  1. Dawn Zelinski says:

    CBS News should never relay requests that could result in the slaughter of animals. Whenever agencies like the Department of Environmental “Conservation” or Divisions of Fish & Wildlife start counting, it never turns out good for the animals. These agencies are basically hunting organizations. I guess hunters in Long Island want more things to kill – as if there aren’t enough dead turkeys in the supermarkets. A turkey could be sitting on my head, and I wouldn’t call the DEC to report it. They deserve to live as much as any human.

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