Officials in Mountain View are preparing to relocate a rafter of wild turkeys (and yes... a group of turkeys is called a rafter) that have moved into and been causing trouble at the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field. The turkeys, which according to the Mercury News have been caught pecking at vehicles and windows, leaving droppings around buildings, and obstructing traffic, began as a small group of birds, but have since grown in numbers to roughly 20 over a series of years, especially throughout the pandemic.
NASA is collaborating with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to have the turkeys moved from the area, to be resettled in an area safer for the birds - and a less inconvenient one for those who work at the Ames Research Center.
The Mercury News also reported that the turkeys have even recently disrupted some flights at the nearby Moffett Federal Field, though most interviewed by KPIX5 found them to be benign in nature.
One Dylan Spangle who worked at Ames Research Center from 2017 to 2018 described them as, "Charming,” adding, "I hadn't heard anything about them causing any issues when I was there."
"It's a little bit of a unique situation," said Ken Paglia, spokesperson for the CDFW, told KPIX5. "Relocating wildlife can be a bit challenging. It’s not always our go-to move. But, in certain situations like this one, it is the right call."
Tanya Espinosa, a Department of Agriculture representative, corresponded with the LA Times and told the publication that she understood that people have been feeding the birds, despite the site's "no feeding wildlife" restrictions. This overly hospitable environment has attracted some 30 turkeys spotted in the neighborhood on a regular basis.
Feeding establishes a link between humans and food for all animals, and they "often grow more hostile toward humans in their pursuit of a meal," Espinosa wrote in an email.
The Ames Research Facility is a Nasa facility that is renowned for its research in aeronautics, exploration technologies, and science at large.