Prevent conflicts with turkeys

Wild turkeys thrive close to people in suburban and urban areas. Follow these best practices to make your property less attractive to turkeys.

Feeding turkeys

Keep wildlife wild! Never deliberately feed wild turkeys to attract them to your property or keep them around. Turkeys can survive very well on natural foods and do not need handouts from people. Feeding, whether direct or indirect, can cause turkeys to act tame and may lead to bold or aggressive behavior, especially in the breeding season. Remember, share these tips with your neighbors; your efforts will be futile if neighbors provide food or shelter for turkeys or neglect to act boldly towards the birds.

Keep bird feeder areas clean

Use feeders designed to keep seed off the ground, as bird seed attracts turkeys and other wild animals. Turkeys and other animals feeding on the seed may excrete in the seed pile and spread disease to others. Clean up any spilled bird seed each day. Remove feeders in the spring, as there are plenty of natural foods available for all birds.

Protect your garden and crops

You can harass turkeys searching for food in your gardens with loud noises, water sprayed from a hose, or a leashed dog. Netting can also be used to exclude turkeys from gardens. In agricultural settings, scare devices may be effective.

Aggressive turkeys

Don't let turkeys intimidate you

Wild turkeys that become accustomed to humans and human-associated foods, like bird seed, are likely to lose their fear of people and can cause damage or attempt to dominate people. Once bold behavior is established, it can be very difficult to change. Don’t hesitate to scare or threaten a bold, aggressive turkey with loud noises, swatting with a broom or water sprayed from a hose. A dog on a leash is also an effective deterrent.

Turkeys that repeatedly challenge or attack people may ultimately have to be destroyed. To avoid these consequences, remember to remove all food sources and help keep turkeys wild. It is rarely an option to trap and relocate nuisance turkeys.

Cover windows and shiny objects

Turkeys may respond aggressively to shiny objects and their own reflection. Since the stimulus to drive away the “intruder” is strong, and since the reflection does not disappear when the turkey confronts it, the bird will often continually display towards or attack the reflection until changing light conditions cause it to vanish. If a turkey is pecking at a shiny object, cover or disguise the object.

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