OCEAN BREEZE — Despite facing building pressure to scrap a turkey cull on Staten Island, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it hasn't turned chicken.
A round-the-clock guard of protectors watching the birds at South Beach Psychiatric Center reported USDA officials hadn't hauled away any birds since Aug. 13.
But a department spokeswoman said they still planned to send surviving turkeys to the slaughterhouse.
“The (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) permits allow for all to be removed, which would require several visits over some time,” said spokeswoman Carol Bannerman.
“Biologists and specialists have been working on other projects and haven’t been to Staten Island this week.”
Bannerman said the USDA hasn't scheduled when workers will start to round up the rest of the turkeys.
The USDA started to round up the nearly 80 turkeys that live on the grounds of the psychiatric center and sending them to the slaughter house earlier this month. Workers had complained the birds were aggressive to staff, patients and visitors.
They also said turkey feces were scattered around the grounds and traffic problems were caused by the fowl crossing Seaview Avenue.
Nearly 50 people took to the grounds last week to protest the cull and an online petition to save the turkeys garnered nearly 6,000 signatures. Residents also started a 24-hour watch to keep an eye on the birds.
“We’re just trying to keep this from happening,” Elisa DiSimone, an environmentalist who helped organize the watch, told DNAinfo.com New York. “We're really trying save this piece of Staten Island history.”
DiSimone said they had three animal sanctuaries willing to take in the remaining turkeys that haven't been sent to the slaughterhouse yet.
Because the flock contains hybrid turkeys — domestic turkeys which bred with wild turkeys — the state's Department of Environmental Conservation ruled that they could not be relocated.
The DEC did not respond to request for comment.