Turkey Trouble

I was surprised a couple of years ago when we were in Moorhead, MN for our daughter’s graduation from Concordia to see a flock of about 10 wild turkeys strutting past campus.  I, too, went to Concordia, and there was nary a wild turkey in Moorhead when I was there.

I follow the Fargo Forum newspaper online, and have read with interest the struggles that the city has with the turkeys.  There seem to be dozens of wild turkeys in town, hanging out in residential areas, terrorizing mail carriers, attacking people’s pets, pooping all over yards and sidewalks, ripping up gardens, playing chicken with cars in the middle of the street, and frightening children on the way to or from school bus stops.

People have been feeding them, which is the crux of the problem.  It keeps them nearby and increases their fecundity.  Several solutions were bandied about by the city council, including shooting them.  Thanks to the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks, there is a solution that will cost the city nothing.  South Dakota will pay for the whole thing.

After all the necessary permits are gathered, corn will be scattered in a specified place on the banks of the Red River in Moorhead.  Once the turkeys start to gather there en masse, SD Game and Fish personnel will fire off a cannon that will shoot out a huge net that will ensnare the turkeys so they can be humanely gathered and caged and transported to South Dakota. There they will be released into the wild to repopulate South Dakota’s wild turkey population.

They estimate there are at least 75 turkeys that can be caught and removed this way.  Good luck to them. I can imagine great success or hilarious failure. I am just glad they aren’t going to just shoot them. Getting Moorhead residents to stop feeding the remaining turkeys will be the real challenge, I fear.

Have you ever encountered a wild turkey?  What are your favorite birds to feed and watch? How would you go about relocating a flock of turkeys?

52 thoughts on “Turkey Trouble”

  1. A woman who lived across the road from my parents’ home had a problem. A huge flock of blackbirds took up residence in her yard. They were a noisy and stinky nuisance, and she couldn’t get rid of them. This woman finally soaked corn kernels in vodka, then spread the spiked corn around. The birds gobbled down the corn, got staggering drunk and passed out on the lawn. Then she drowned them, one by one.

    It seems possible that someone could get a turkey flock drunk and then move them to a new place. They’d wake up with a hangover, but I’ll bet this would cost many thousands of dollars less than rocket-propelled nets fired by DNR agents.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Wild turkeys have become relatively common. I even see them right here in the city, occasionly on the sidewalk in front of my house. As for capturing them, I hear they can be transfixed with cranberry sauce.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. We had wild turkeys in Robbinsdale, and I’ve seen a couple here down by the lake. There is a controversy in Winona about an over-population of geese there, and I wish the decision-makers would read this blog!

    I think Steve’s story about spiking the corn is the best idea, but why not combine with Wes’ and give them… (wait for it)… Wild Turkey Whisky?

    No good place for my bird feeders here, but I used to love watching the red-bellied woodpeckers. Looks to me like a teenager with cap on backwards. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-bellied_woodpecker

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I don’t feed birds in my yard because the squirrels would eat all the bird food. When I visit my sister in Duluth, though, I watch lots of birds. My favorite are the hummingbirds.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My sister makes her own nectar. I’m too lazy to find a place for a hummingbird feeder, make the nectar regularly, and check it every day to see if they have enough. And don’t know that I would get that many hummers here in the city, If I ever become un-lazy, I’ll think of doing hummingbird feeder.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I fed hummingbirds in Oregon. I had a perfect setup for that. Oregon has several species of hummers, all gorgeous, so it was a treat to see something other than the ruby throated hummingbirds that are the only hummers in the midwest. Putting out the nectar was bothersome, but the birds repaid me generously with their iridescent beauty.

          Liked by 4 people

  5. We have far too many wild turkeys out here. It’s not unusual in winter to see a group of 40-50. They separate and spread out more in the summer.
    I remember the first time I saw one maybe about 30 years ago. All I saw was something big and black zip into the woods at the edge of a field. Wasn’t but a year or two they were all over.

    I have several people come out here to go turkey hunting in the spring. But those turkeys are smart and crafty; the first day or two of hunting season the guys have the best luck; after that it’s pretty tough.
    The turkeys will rip up young soybean plants right out of the field.
    They used to come right down in the yard and eat the corn I put out for my ducks and chickens. I hate the damn things. I can chase them out of the yard 10 times. They just sit in the woods and wait for the car to leave, then they come back down.
    I’ve shot them w/ paintball guns and bird shot. They don’t care.
    I do have a couple good dogs now that don’t like them and they haven’t been around so much lately.

    Same trouble w/ deer; I probably lose hundreds of dollars / year to wildlife.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. wouldn’t you know, since it was a nice sunny day I left the door open for the chickens and threw some corn outside. (the birds appreciate it too and last year I had pheasants come to eat.)
      Wasn’t long I happen to look out the window and there’s 25 turkeys eating the corn.
      How did they find out so fast it was there?? One dog was in the house, another was out front. But when I got the dog outside he chased them away with the puppy in hot pursuit.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Whatever is on sale. 🙂 Yellow this time.

      I need one of those net cannons!

      We chase them up the road in the car. You don’t want one to actually hit your windshield, but we’ve scared the feathers off a few…
      It’s pretty amazing to see those big clunky things actually fly and soar over the fields and glide through the trees.

      Liked by 4 people

  6. The Minnesota DNR struggled for many years to restore turkeys to the state. That in itself was controversial, for there is no proof MN ever had turkeys when Europeans arrived. Then, rather suddenly, the DNR hit on a strategy that worked amazingly well. In 1973 they traded trapped ruffed grouse for trapped wild turkeys, and turkey numbers have exceeded expectations since then.

    When my buddy Katie and I were walking the dog park every day there was a hen turkey we often met right near Minnehaha Falls. It seemed unusual for a turkey to choose to live in a dog park, but she was comfortable with dogs. Katie pointed her, which was harmless, and other dogs rushed her without ever getting close.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I see wild turkeys occasionally in southern MN. Never stared one down in a confrontation, if that’s what you mean by an encounter. Favorite birds to watch are loons, any raptor, cardinals, jays, and hummingbirds. Feeding faves are hummingbirds and whatever wants to grace our birdfeeder in winter.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oops. Forgot the relo question, I suppose I’d truck in a bunch of regular turkeys or chickens and the wild ones would quickly move to anywhere quiet where they don’t have to put up with that “riff-raff.”

      *There goes the neighborhood!*


      Liked by 3 people

  8. i think south dakota may lead the way here

    who says it has to be turkeys?
    couldn’t we just get a bunch of verbena and tacos and set up a spot in elpasocwhere the immagrents would gather for handouts and then shoot s net st them and gently cage them and send them abco to where they belong

    we could try that and see if the america first crowd goes for it

    i think dakota has problems the rest of the world would love to have on the top of their list

    oil field housing shortage
    stripper busses in the eastern dakota worker camps
    canadians getting in without a wall
    tell em possess are comin
    then slugs

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’ve had turkeys in my yard, but probably not more than three or four at a time.

    I see lots of them down by the St. Paul JCC. There are woods across the street. The turkeys must live in the woods. I saw one strutting down the median on St. Paul Avenue in the snow just the other day. I sometimes wonder if they ever get hit by cars – I see raccoons, possums, squirrels become roadkill in the city streets, but never a wild turkey. They don’t seem to have any fear of cars, though.

    I like to have chickadees at the feeders. They seem polite and take turns.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I don’t know what it is about chickadees, but they do seem like pleasant little birds. I like them a lot. One of the birds I’m most excited to see, though, because it’s relatively rarely that I see them, is the cedar waxwing.

      I have seen a couple of turkeys in the neighborhood. I suspect they hang around because they have figured out how to get to the chicken feed of my neighbors who have chickens. Unfortunately my friend, Helen, gave up on chickens when a fox absconded with two of her small flock this fall.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, ans yes, BiR. The fox has been spotted in Helen’s yard several times, unfortunately one of those times with a hen in his/her mouth. There’s a fair amount of “wild” wooded areas a few blocks away, and apparently that’s all the more habitat they require.

          The cedar waxwings used to show up occasionally, usually only for a brief stop, to feast on the rosehips of my two large rose bushes.

          Liked by 1 person

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