The following is a post from our Resident Rosarian at our Garden. We posted this message for him on NextDoor today since he lives outside the neighborhood and knows that many people are concerned about the garden. As he also doesn't have FaceBook, we will be sure to forward comments to him.
MORCOM ROSE GARDEN ROSARIAN ADDRESSES TURKEY SITUATION
"I am the Rosarian and a volunteer at the Morcom Rose Garden, 700 Jean St., Oakland. The Garden is approximately eight acres with over 2,500 roses, some quite rare.
I am alarmed at the considerable misinformation contained in some of the NextDoor posts. Being at the Garden almost daily for the last several years, I'd like to provide some facts regarding the Tom, hens and the Garden.
For years, the only turkey at the Garden was a hen we called "Rosie." (All toms have been called "Tom", never "Gerald.") Every early spring and late summer a tom would drop by, mate and leave. No poults ever survived. However, three years ago a tom arrived and stayed. For the next two years he was fairly mellow as he started to develop a harem.
Assuming it was still the same tom, early this year there was a dramatic change in his demeanor. For the first time I started to see him attack people, generally jumping up on them and occasionally pecking them. This attack pattern became more often and more aggressive, at times quite vicious.
This is an important point... ALL of the many attacks I have observed were non provoked with the exception of one when a couple teenage boys provoked him. In many cases I was able to rush over to help the victim. Most were in shock, very frightened and sometimes in pain from pecks and scratches, their clothing torn. Imagine an elderly man or woman being blindsided by a 25 pound turkey with a very sharp beak or the screams of an attacked child or a woman sitting alone on a hillside on a quiet day when the tom, from approximately a half football field away, suddenly runs towards her and viciously attacks.
I've noted Next Door posts stating "The only reason the Tom is attacking is because he is provoked" or "because you tried to take a Selfie with him" or "A turkey won't attack unless you are too close to his hen and chicks." This may have merit in some cases but I assure you that is NOT the case with this tom! To those that are posting this misinformation it might be wise to delete such posts. I fear such posting might lull an innocent person to risk attack.
I started to document many of the physical attacks, forwarding information to Vector Control. I also encouraged those that had been attacked to contact the Mayor's office, Vector Control and/or call 311. As you may know, the Garden, as of a few days ago, was closed by Animal Control. I, as they, have compassion for the turkeys and there are people working for a solution.
Speaking from my standpoint as the rosarian and a guardian of the Garden, the turkeys do considerable damage to the roses. A wild tom will often build his flock to thirty or more hens. With one or two turkeys their damage is tolerable. With more, I fear for the Garden. The hens, in searching for grubs plus their natural nesting motions damage the beds and roses. My biggest concern is what happens right after we do the major pruning in January-February. To maintain a healthy plant and high bloom count it is necessary to rotate out the older canes for younger ones. After the hard pruning basal breaks (potential new canes) start to appear at the base of the plant. The volunteers finger-prune weak basal breaks so a few new strong canes will develop. The hens are pecking out these necessary basal breaks. This year with four hens I found notable damage in the garden. The bottom line... the Garden can tolerate maybe one or two turkeys, but a few more will seriously endanger the roses.
In closing, I have to give a plug for the Morcom Rose Garden. Last year over 75,000 people visited the Garden during the bloom season starting in early April (actually far more than this year)! The Garden is sometimes called "Oakland's hidden gem." It truly is."