(JEFFERSON, Ore.) -- Thanksgiving is still months away, but the wild turkeys in Jefferson, Ore., have faced the gun barrel early.
Officials shot wild turkeys, citing complaints that the birds have become an annoyance. Some of the complaints about the turkeys are that they scratch the paint off of cars and build their nests on rooftops.
“The city received turkey complaints [and] the city sought solutions to resolve turkey problems they had reports from local citizens about,” said Steve Marks, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife‘s South Willamette watershed manager. “We were aware of the situation and kind of advised the city and local residents of the types of actions you would take to resolve turkey damage and kind of worked in a technical capacity to advise what their options are.”
Marks said that Jefferson City recently adopted a no-feeding ordinance because turkeys will generally congregate where food is available.
“If residents are feeding turkeys, it can cause large congregations of turkeys and they can start roosting and scratch the roofs of vehicles,” he said.
However, not everyone in the small town agrees that the wild birds are a nuisance.
Shauna Martin, a local resident who works at AIM Equipments, the property where most of the turkeys tend to congregate, said she is against killing the turkeys.
“They’re not a nuisance at all,” Martin said. “They came to our land about six years ago and every year they come back, roost and lay their eggs here. And after the babies are 2 weeks old, the mama starts walking them around. And that’s when they start going to other people’s area.”
Martin said the entire ordeal has taken an emotional toll on her and other residents.
“I wish I could net them myself and protect them -- but they’re wildlife, I can’t do that,”she said. “They’ve become my pets, my friends and they are tugging on my heartstrings right now.”
The permit, which allows a skilled hunter to shot the turkeys, was given to Jefferson by the state, and is expected to be used to kill several of the toms -- the bigger male turkeys -- in the hope that other turkeys will scatter. The appointed hunter was to be chosen by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Jefferson City Mayor Ben Pickett said late Tuesday that three toms already were “harvested” Tuesday morning.
“It is my understanding that ODFW [Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife] made it clear trapping and relocation efforts were not an option and issued the city three turkey harvest permits,” he said in a written statement.
Martin blamed the mayor for what she believes is an unnecessary plan.
“The mayor will tell you there are 70, but I haven’t seen more than 12 turkeys ever,” she said.
In addition to killing the birds, Marks said, the plan for the city also includes other actions.
“They have also done some outreach in the community to reduce feeding of birds and provide them options for hazing to help reduce damage,” he said. “Because the birds habituate easily, they need to curb the human behaviors to make the turkeys wild again.”
Jefferson City said it will give the meat from the killed turkeys to needy families.
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