Texas Turkey Terror — Renegade Gobblers Rampage in Senior Community

  • And they love going after old, frail women.

Sun City is a gorgeous 55-and-above community, located in Georgetown, Texas. It offers a small-town vibe only minutes from the bustle of Austin, with golf courses, pools, trails, ponds, and more contributing to its 15,000 residents’ active lifestyle.

Another feature of Sun City is its resident flock of wild turkeys. They’ve provided amusement to the community’s recent retirees on the walking trails and lush wooded areas.

But things have changed.

The once peaceful turkeys have turned aggressive. Their misbehavior began as mild harassment of passing cars but soon spiraled into straight-up gang violence.

Now, the group of birds — dubbed the Renegades — has even started causing injuries. The senior community is now faced with only one option.

The birds have to go. But whether they’ll leave Sun City with their lives is up for debate.

And I looked, and behold — a turkey!

Living Road Barriers

Sun City’s turkey troubles began in the summer of last year. A group of young male turkeys left their usual haunts in the community’s woods and took to the roads.

The birds would seemingly intentionally block roads, using themselves as barricades. It didn’t matter if the oncoming vehicle was a car, golf cart, or bicycle — the turkeys would stand firm in front of it.

After the vehicle stopped, the turkeys would begin to peck at its tires. It’s almost as if they understood that the vehicle wouldn’t go anywhere if the tires popped.

If the vehicle tried to pull away, the birds would chase after it. Eventually, they also began approaching residents’ driveways and yards, prompting the retirees to shoo them away with brooms.

The Sun City residents initially thought the birds’ antics were only funny. They even named the turkey group the Renegades.

But then came the first attack.

Targeting Little Old Ladies

In January 2023, Joan Altshuler’s morning walk took a terrifying turn. She usually brings her dog with her but this morning, she was alone.

“I was walking on a street I don’t normally walk on and the wild turkeys came up behind me and rammed into me, right in the kidney area. Not once, but twice,” Altshuler, 78, told Texas Monthly.

The large birds were tall enough to come up to Altshuler’s chest. Fortunately, she was steady on her feet.

“I didn’t fall. If I fell, I wouldn’t have been able to get up and I would have been in bigger trouble,” she mused.

She ran to a nearby porch to seek refuge, but no one appeared to be home. Meanwhile, the turkeys surrounded the porch’s staircase.

“The turkeys barricaded me, they wouldn’t let me get down,” Altshuler said.

Eventually, the birds seemed to get bored and began wandering off. That gave Altshuler enough space to sneak around the side of the house and throw rocks at the turkeys until they dispersed.

The attacks have only gotten worse since then. The bastards’ favorite victims seem to be frail old ladies.

One woman got scratched during an attack and had to get a tetanus shot. The turkeys pecked another while she was getting her mail and now, two months later, she’s still terrified to go to her mailbox.

“People say it’s no problem to stand up to them and it’s all fine and dandy, but when you’re 87 years old … a little old lady is going to get startled and lose her footing and crack her head,” said Barb Meese, a neighborhood representative in the community association.

Yet, the turkeys aren’t particularly picky about whom they terrorize. They will attack delivery drivers and postal workers as well.

Caught in Bureaucracy

But why did the turkeys turn to violence? The entire Sun City community (together with wildlife experts) agree that someone — no one knows who — had been feeding the birds.

As a result, they lost their fear of humans and began seeing them as food dispensers. And a hungry turkey is a demanding and angry creature.

The community swiftly put in place a ban on feeding the turkeys. But the damage had already been done and the turkeys were undeterred.

Working together with Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPWD), the Sun City community began looking for a solution. Eventually, they arrived at two options.

Solution one — the turkeys leave the community in cages. Solution two — the turkeys leave the community in boxes.

Both solutions have their problems, though. Whether the birds are trapped or killed, the community needs TPWD permits, which come with their own often arcane requirements and rules.

Additionally, it’s not clear whether all the turkeys in the community have gone renegade. The violent group seems to consist of a group of young males, but no one is exactly sure which turkeys are behind the attacks.

Finally, if the turkeys are relocated, where would they go? How can we be sure they don’t bring diseases into their new home? Better yet, how do we know they won’t continue rampaging in a different area?

It seems putting a dead stop to the attacks would be simpler, but the community and authorities are still ironing out the details. Meanwhile, the turkeys continue to roam Sun City.