OCEAN BREEZE — The state will relocate up to another 100 wild turkeys that roam the streets of Staten Island to an animal sanctuary upstate next month.
Workers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will start to add bait and traps to the grounds of the South Beach Psychiatric Center next week and start collecting the Staten Island flock in the beginning of December, according to Benjamin Rosen, spokesman for the state's Office of Mental Health, which runs the property.
Recent Department of Environmental Conservation counts put the Staten Island flock at South Beach Psychiatric Center at about 50, but Rosen said the agencies expect the number to be greater when birds that roam Ocean Breeze gather on the grounds when the bait is added.
"We believe obviously there’s probably more in the surrounding community that probably go on our grounds," Rosen said. "The first round of captures will occur in the first few weeks in December. Those will be ongoing until hopefully we hit the 100 mark."
The permit for the USDA to capture and release the birds ends in October 2016, Rosen said.
The birds will join the other turkeys that were relocated to the And-Hof Animal Sanctuary last year, after locals complained they were a nuisance.
"They really didn't have a very bright future," Kurt Andernach, 51, who agreed to house the flock to his 60-acre sanctuary, told DNAinfo New York at the time. "They are a concern on Staten Island and there were not very many alternatives."
Last year, the USDA started a controversial $16,000 cull of the flock — a mix of domestic and wild turkeys — that called the psychiatric center home for years after staff complained of health concerns over their droppings, some bird's aggressive behavior and traffic issues when they crossed the street.
After outcry from locals and politicians, the USDA canceled the cull and relocated them to two animal sanctuaries upstate instead.