Tobi Taylor's Journal

News > Wednesday, June-06-2007

Turkeys 1, Humans 0

The latest issue of Archaeology Southwest (Vol. 21, No. 1) contains two of my articles -- one on Zuni ethnoornithologist Ed Ladd, and one on the reintroduction of turkeys at Mesa Verde National Park in the 1950s. "The Great Mesa Verde Turkey Experiment" had some hilarious unintended consequences: "Once the turkeys were established, they began to overrun the place: 'It was not long before they paid little or no attention to humans, cars, or racket.'" They were obnoxious, slow-moving, and territorial; a Park Service employee came home one evening to find a turkey in his living room. When the employees decided that enough was enough, and tried to drive the turkeys into the wilderness -- by shooting over them, lobbing cherry bombs at them, spraying them with water, and chasing them with cars -- the turkeys viewed it as a game of wits, which they won. The employees gave up. 

A few weeks after the issue of  Archaeology Southwest came out, I was talking to a current Mesa Verde employee about an unrelated matter. Just for fun, I asked her if she'd seen any turkeys in her area. "Well," she said, "I had to brake for a puffed-out tom turkey on my way to the office today. I didn't have any cherry bombs handy, so he was lucky!"

The turkeys are still winning.



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