Staten Islander with property upstate dangles a lifeline for wild turkeys

By Michael Sedon Staten Island Advance

With the wild turkeys of Ocean Breeze under siege — the government rounded up lots of them for slaughter earlier this week — a 9/11 widow from Annadale is offering sanctuary for the birds on her 60-acre property upstate.

The culling is “heartbreaking,” said lifelong animal-¬Ělover Diane Massaroli. “There’s got to be a better way. … I couldn’t go [to the rally Wednesday] because I didn’t want to see [the turkeys] knowing that they were going to be killed. So I figured, let me go about it a different way.”

Mrs. Massaroli has even offered to pay for the three-and-a-half-hour trip to transport the birds to Oneonta.

“I lost my husband [Michael] on 9/11, so I’ve had a hectic life, and I just wanted somewhere to go that would be peaceful, away from the city, where I could bring my kids — I have two children — and that’s pretty much the only reason I bought it.” She purchased the land in May 2012 as a place of refuge and relaxation, and Mrs. Massaroli says the area is teaming with wildlife, including turkeys, black bears and deer.

“I thought it was more of an alternative to killing them, letting them run free,” Mrs. Massaroli said.

Since late Wednesday afternoon, Mrs. Massaroli has been reaching out to friends and plans to contact elected representatives to further her proposal for the turkeys.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is on record as saying Staten Island’s turkeys are a mixed breed of wild and farm-raised birds and so could not be released into nature for fear they would foul the native species’ bloodlines.

A spokesman for the USDA, whose agents rounded up the birds on the grounds of the South Beach Psychiatric Center, said it would take up to a month to test the turkey corpses to determine their fitness for human consumption or, failing that, animal consumption. If neither, they will be “disposed of according to terms of the permit,” he said.

The agency refused to elaborate on its arrangements.

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