By Natalie Ebsworth
WildSafeBC Coordinator Invermere

Wild turkeys can create substantial conflict when inhabiting urban areas. In fact, wild turkeys can be a real nuisance in some neighbourhoods. Turkeys can cause multiple impacts to lawns, gardens, mulched areas, bird feeders, and damage to houses and vehicles is also common. On top of that, wild turkeys can be very noisy during breeding season, demonstrate aggressive behaviour towards humans and cause vehicle collisions. Much of this is caused by habituation to people.

There are a few reasons besides the ones listed that people do not want wild turkeys in their neighbourhood. Wild turkeys are hosts to a variety of diseases, none of which pose a threat to human health; however, for this reason, it is not recommended to handle, feed or pet wild turkeys. They can also be a host for ticks, mites, and lice, and some of these can be transmitted to humans and your pets. Ticks, for example, can latch on to turkeys and then come into your yard. Nobody wants ticks in their yard, especially if you own a dog or have children.

They may also be very intimidating when in a flock within an urban/suburban neighbourhood and cause discomfort to people walking through the area. Do not allow turkeys to become habituated to people. Turkeys that are comfortable around people are more likely to cause damage or attempt to dominate people, which becomes a difficult problem to mitigate. The best way to prevent aggressive turkeys is to prevent them from becoming habituated to people in the first place.

To reduce conflicts with wild turkeys, there are a few things one can do:

Make your yard WildSafe – keep your lawn cut short and weed free. Be sure to remove all dense brush and cover that may act like shelter or bedding material.

Do not feed turkeys – this will encourage them to stick around and likely cause problems. Remove or secure all potential sources of food, that includes bird feeders and other attractants. It is illegal to intentionally feed or bait ungulates or turkeys in the Kootenay Region, except under permit.

Fencing – always check with bylaws prior to putting up a fence.

Hazing techniques – if a wild turkey continues to hang around after trying your best to make it clear that they are unwanted, it may be time to consider hazing techniques such as motion light detectors or sprinklers, opening an umbrella, leashed dogs (provided you can control them and the dog does not harm the turkey), banging pots and pans or, other noisemakers, like radios. The idea is to make them feel threatened and, therefore, leave the area.

Turkeys on the roadside – Turkeys that hang out on roads and highways are sometimes difficult to disperse, and if they become hazardous, they may need to be forcibly removed.

Thank you for not feeding the turkeys; let’s “keep wildlife wild and communities safe.”

WildSafeBC Columbia Valley gratefully acknowledges the financial support from The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, The Columbia Basin Trust, The BC Conservation Foundation, Regional District of East Kootenay, District of Invermere, and Village of Radium Hot Springs.