By Greg Amos

The Columbia Valley has no shortage of wildlife, but as a relative newcomer to this area, I will admit to some surprise when I was rudely interrupted by a flock of wild turkeys while out taking a photo one day in January.

Since that time, a small gang of the large birds has been noticeably terrorizing the neighbourhood I live in,

travelling with a fearsome pack mentality in search of snow-free patches of lawn to graze upon and bird feeders to raid.

These toms, jakes, and hens have proven rather elusive on the photo front they make up for their poor flying skills with a deceiving fleetness of foot, and an uncanny ability to evade me by the time I have a telephoto lens swapped onto my camera.

The Columbia Valley is the northern fringe of the natural range of the Merriams wild turkey. After some digging, I learned the local flocks were brought to this part of the valley by Nolan Rad and the late Albert Cooper some years ago from the Top of the World ranch near Fort Steele.

A legend holds that the wild turkeys migrated here from the west via the Earl Grey Pass, though thats an unlikely scenario the scrappy birds are not in their element here, and populations tend to ebb and flow with the severity of winters. Last springs heavy rains, Mr. Rad told me, made things very difficult for the ground-nesting turkeys.

With healthy populations of turkeys now out strutting their stuff, local hunters can look forward to the April 15th opening of wild turkey season. And take note, turkeys: now that I have done my homework, I too will be ready to shoot you with my camera.