Nuisance turkeys help educate people about living near wildlife

Nov 3, 2023, 6:18 PM | Updated: 7:07 pm

HYRUM, Cache Co. — Hundreds of nuisance wild turkeys may now be helping teach people about them and how to best deal with them.

Turkeys in neighborhoods can be a problem. Sometimes they may seem like an added attraction.

“Turkeys are usually a novelty when they first come into neighborhoods, and people love to see them,” Jim Christensen said. He has helped manage and move hundreds of the birds.

He said the more we can learn about living with them here in Utah, the better. “We want people to know how to enjoy the wildlife and also to stay safe from them.”

Approximately 500 nuisance turkeys have been moved to Hardware Wildlife Management Area, a spot typically known for elk feeding.

“So we have excellent habitat here for turkeys. They can find everything they need,” Marni Lee, who runs the exhibit at Hardware said.

Now, the Division of Wildlife Resources is hoping that a large, often visible population of the turkeys at Hardware can help people understand them better.

Lee said, “It’s mostly a family-friendly exhibit that increases this awareness and knowledge of turkey biology and natural history.”

Hardware Wildlife Management Area

The Hardware Wildlife Management Area sits near Menden. (KSL TV)

She said the exhibit will be here for the next three weekends, and if you pay attention, you may get a look at the hundreds of wild turkeys out here.

You may have a better chance of spotting wild turkeys out here once the elk feeding starts because while the food isn’t for them, Lee points out they are often there to participate.

But if you see them in your area, Christensen says it’s important not to feed them and let the DWR know early, since the populations can grow fast.

Turkeys at Hardware

Turkeys look for food at the Hardware Wildlife Management Area. (KSL TV file photo)

Christensen added, “If they’re fed supplementally, it can cause the populations to grow larger than what the natural habitat can support.”

You may recall the problems Mendon faced several years ago. Residents on the south side of Menden told KSL back in 2018 that they became used to seeing hundreds of turkeys in their yards each day.

Christensen says once those numbers exploded, it took around nine years to get them back under control.

“And during that time, turkeys are very smart. They learn to be trap-wary and know where to go and where not to go,” Christensen said.

All the more reason to enjoy them out at Hardware, not close to home.

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Nuisance turkeys help educate people about living near wildlife