Wild turkeys in urban areas are becoming more of a concern, according to WildSafeBC, who say the large flightless birds can create substantial conflict when inhabiting populated neighbourhoods.
In addition to impacting lawns, gardens, mulches areas and bird feeders, wild turkeys are also known to damage houses and especially vehicles.
“Wild turkeys can also be very noisy during breeding season, demonstrate aggressive behaviour towards humans and cause vehicle collisions,” said WildSafeBC’s Kimberley-Cranbrook coordinator Danica Roussy. “Much of this is caused by habituation to people.”
Besides the above-mentioned reasons, there are a few others people may not want turkeys in their neighbourhood. They can host a variety of diseases, which although don’t threaten humans, it’s still not recommended to handle or feed them. They can also be a host for ticks, mites and lice which can sometimes transmit to humans.
Ticks can latch on to turkeys and then be transported into your yard, which no one wants.
In large flocks they can also potentially be threatening or cause discomfort to people walking in that area, which is why WildSafe says they should never be allowed to become habituated to people.
“Turkeys that are comfortable around people are more likely cause damage or attempt to dominate people, and it is a difficult problem to fix,” Roussy said. “The best way to prevent aggressive turkeys is to prevent them from becoming habituated to people in the first place.”
You can help prevent conflicts with wild turkeys by making your yard “WildSafe”: keeping your lawn cut short and free of weeds and removing all dense brush and cover that they could utilize as shelter or bedding material.
Never intentionally feed them, as this will encourage them to stick around and removing or securing potential food sources such as bird feeders is a good idea.
“It is unlawful to intentionally feed or bait ungulates or turkeys in the Kootenay Region, except under permit,” Roussy explained.
WildSafeBC also suggests implementing hazing techniques if a wild turkey continues to inhabit your property after you’ve tried making it clear they are unwanted there. Hazing techniques include motion light detectors or sprinklers, opening an umbrella at them, leashed dogs, so long as they are under control and the dog doesn’t hurt the turkey, and making noise with pots and pans. The idea is to make them feel threatened so they leave the area.