Turkey deaths spark neighbors’ ire

Audrey Gomez

Residents in the area of Mountain View and Elm have different opinions about turkeys frequenting their neighborhood.

While some enjoy the up-close encounter with the group of about nine turkeys, others consider them a nuisance and potentially dangerous.

A homeowner in the 2200 block of Elm Street contacted the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, who then contacted Sweet Home Police Department about the three tom turkeys, said Chief Jeff Lynn.

An officer went to the area with an ODFW biologist, Lynn said.

“ODFW issued a kill permit,” Lynn said.

On Feb. 5, a SHPD officer shot two toms. The meat will be donated to Gleaners, Lynn said.

Scott Nicholson and Rosy Huffman, who live on nearby Cedar Street, were outraged. The couple feed the turkeys, Nicholson said. They named the tom turkeys: Tom, Thomas, and Ted.

“Ted was the big one,” Nicholson said. “They’re part of the wildlife living in the area.”

Nicholson said he didn’t know of any neighbors who complained about the turkeys.

While Linda Jones, another area resident, did not contact the police, she said she had concerns about the turkeys.

“I don’t like them,” Jones said.

Jones has a small dog, about half the size of one of the toms. She said she was afraid to let it go out in her fenced backyard because she was worried a turkey would get over the barrier.

She has seen them on her neighbor’s roof and on their car, which she said could damage the property.

Still, she would have preferred if the turkeys were not shot.

“If they could’ve rounded them up, that would have been great,” Jones said.

Lynn said neighbors feeding the turkeys created the problem.

Nancy Taylor, ODFW wildlife biologist did not respond by press time to questions about the situation but the ODFW website has some suggestions for co-existing with wild turkeys.

“When urban turkeys behave similar to their wild counterparts, damage to people’s property is generally minor and tolerable,” according to the site. “However, when turkey behavior is changed, these birds can become an unwelcome nuisance and cause considerable damage to you or your neighbor’s property.”

Intentionally or unintentionally feeding the turkeys is a catalyst to that behavior change.

“Semi-domesticated males sometimes exhibit aggression towards people during the breeding season or when expecting food handouts,” according the site.

ODFW offers some ways to remedy situations in which turkeys have inhabited residential neighborhoods. Those include stop feeding the turkeys, communicate with neighbors and communicate with local ODFW wildlife biologists.

“Most cities are enacting ordinances prohibiting feeding wildlife,” Lynn said. “There’s nothing addressing that in Sweet Home ordinances at this time.

“Right now, I don’t see a huge need for it,” he added. “Hopefully this is more of an isolated incident.”