ATHENS, Ga. - Residents of an Athens neighborhood say they might have found relief from a gang that laid siege to the area over the past few months, kicking and biting at people, jamming up traffic and chasing terrified residents into their homes.
The gang - that's what the U.S. Geological Survey calls a flock of wild turkeys - went after 68-year-old Carol Herzog on Monday, she said.
"I was outside, and the two toms kept walking toward me, pushing me backwards," Herzog said. "They were flying up to my face as I kept backing up. I was scared to death."
Officers with the state Department of Natural Resources took down both toms in the gang of six Tuesday morning, likely putting an end to the gang's rampage.
Officers visited the Olde Lexington Gardens subdivision off Old Lexington Road to investigate complaints about the birds, and shot the toms after they became aggressive.
This was the first time DNR officers put down turkeys, said DNR wildlife biologist Alex Coley.
Then again, the DNR doesn't get too many calls about turkeys disturbing the peace, he said.
"You can't relocate a nuisance animal, so we had to euthanize them," Coley said. "They were very aggressive, which, at this time of year, is extremely rare."
Turkeys typically shy away from humans, but this gang had so much human interaction that they had no fear, Coley said. Neighbors who fed the turkeys only made them more aggressive.
The turkeys also went yard-to-yard, looting bird feeders and snacking on grass seed, said Kip Carter, the president of Olde Lexington Gardens' homeowners' association.
Almost every evening, Carter and his family watched the gang of six - the two toms leading the way - cross through an acre of woods and come into his backyard.
"The first time we saw them was last year, when they took to our trees and climbed up on our roof," Carter said. "I tried spraying them with a garden hose and chasing them away with a broom, but they kept coming back."
Monday evening was no different. Carter waited in his backyard with broom in hand, and when the toms charged, he fought back.
Soon Carter had the upper hand - though he never actually hit the turkeys - and chased the gang into a neighboring yard. His neighbor, Will McKinney, came out of his house wielding a pool cue and yelling for the gang to get off his lawn.
The turkeys obliged and ran down Elderberry Circle toward Herzog's house.
"We've got to do something about these turkeys," McKinney said afterward. "They're just a nuisance."
Left alone, the four hens should keep their distance from their human neighbors, Coley said. But with mating season around the corner, they could attract another tom or two and start a new gang, he said.
For now, Herzog and her neighbors can go back to walking around the neighborhood or gardening in their yards without having to watch their backs.
"I've been feeling like a prisoner in my own home," Herzog said. "I had to look out the window to make sure they weren't out there ...
"If you're attacked by a person, there's usually some reasoning, but a turkey has no reason."