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Nature Advocates Protest Against Slaughter Of Wild Turkeys On Staten Island

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Residents and nature advocates protested Wednesday against the slaughter of wild turkeys on Staten Island, arguing that the claims that the birds are unsanitary are false.

The wild turkeys have been rounded up lately by U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services teams and slaughtered. Beginning Monday morning, about 80 turkeys and some chickens on the grounds of the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Staten Island were hauled into temporary corrals, captured by hand or an air cannon net, and sent to a processing facility, the USDA told the Staten Island Advance.

The reason for the slaughtering program was concerns, given that the birds have been defecating on the grounds, the newspaper reported. But he group GooseWatch NYC joind City Council candidate John Mancuso Wednesday to argue that concerns about the birds' droppings are vastly overblown.

"It's a scare tactic that some people buy into by thinking that if there's poop, people might somehow ingest it," GooseWatch NYC founder David Karopkin told 1010 WINS. "I mean, really, unless you're playing on the ground and putting it in your mouth – and even then, it's a very small chance that somebody would get sick. And we have all kinds of information that biologists have been refuting these claims for years."

GooseWatch NYC said the situation on Staten Island is all too familiar, since in 2010, Brooklyn residents were shocked when more than 300 geese were taken away and slaughtered in Prospect Park.

Karopkin said despite claims to the contrary, bird feces can be good for the environment.

"Goose poop has also been – studies show that it's good for the grass; that it oxygenates it, and that it's a good fertilizer," he said. "So yes, it's part of nature, and at the end of the day, we're going to have to figure out how to coexist with the wild animals that live in our urban environment. We can't kill our way out of those problems over and over again."

The USDA argued that the turkeys could not be relocated, since the flock contains some hybrid turkeys, the newspaper reported.

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