DNR urges residents to keep wild turkeys wild

The Department of Natural Resources, which for years has been asking people not to feed deer, is now turning its sights on wild turkeys.

The DNR is asking people to quit feeding the big birds in southwest Minnesota because they are becoming so accustomed to people and can become a nuisance. In southeast Minnesota, turkeys aren't as much of a problem. But the DNR is still asking people to refrain from feeding the birds because of fears of spreading chronic wasting disease in deer (the feed used for turkeys can also attract deer).

 In the southwest, where the DNR started flocks from birds live-trapped in the southeast, turkeys were a novelty at first, said Scott W. Roemhildt, DNR southern region information officer.

Now that turkeys are established, the DNR is asking people to quit feeding so wild turkeys stay wild. With crops now out of the fields, turkeys are looking for food sources and they have moved into towns where they can become a problem. Turkeys can become aggressive, especially in the spring breeding season, he said.

"They will go after kids. They will go after pets, not hurting them but definitely scaring them," he said.


Turkeys, which can weigh 20 pounds or more, can also destroy flower beds, break trees when roosting and leave their droppings.

The DNR suggests people use elevated bird feeders, clean up spilled feed, clean around farmers' grain bins and try to shoo turkeys away with a broom or by opening and closing an umbrella. A leashed dog will also keep turkeys away.

There is a deer feeding ban in a large area around Pine Island, where chronic wasting disease was found nearly a year ago. It's hard to feed turkeys without feeding deer, said Don Nelson, area DNR wildlife supervisor.

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