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January 24, 2009

Turkey terror in Rockport: Post Office suspends some deliveries after birds' attacks on carriers

Turkey terror in Rockport

ROCKPORT — Through rain, sleet and snow, Rockport mail carriers deliver — until now, anyway.

And it wasn't the rain, sleet or snow that stopped some of them.

Nearly every day over the last five months, an average of 10 turkeys — led by a pair of male "ring leaders" — have been chasing and attempting to peck a postal worker on his route along Marmion Way and South Street.

Rockport Post Office Delivery Manager Tim Russell said slippery sidewalks and territorial dogs are common challenges for his carriers, but over the 22 years he's worked for the U.S. Postal Service, he's never seen anything quite like this.

"Some of the neighbors said their dogs have been attacked, but mostly it's just been our postal truck," Russell said. "They chase the truck down the street — two males in particular — it's just unbelievable."

The local post office stopped delivering mail to several South Street homes after an incident Jan. 15 when a number of passers-by stopped to help the postal worker as he was being chased by the quick-trotting turkeys.

"Last week, people had to intervene so (the mail carrier) could get back to his truck," Russell said yesterday. "He was trying to wave a bag full of mail at the turkeys as he ran when some folks pulled over to shoo the turkeys away."

For weeks prior to the incident, Russell said the mail carrier had tried to park the truck out of sight or change the time of day he was delivering the mail to that area, but nothing worked.

Postmaster Bob Kerrigan sought help this past week from Capt. John Tulik of the state Environmental Police.

Tulik said turkeys exercise dominance over their area and the only way to deal with them is to be more dominant. Tulik suggested arming the postal worker with an umbrella. When a turkey begins to charge, the carrier should open the umbrella toward the turkey, which in turn should trick the bird into thinking it's facing another dominant male flaring its tail feathers.

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