Wild turkeys aren't leaving Moorhead because SD department says birds are 'too urban'

Wild turkeys forage Monday, Feb. 11, on the 800 Block of Fifth Avenue North, Moorhead.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Wild turkeys forage Monday, Feb. 11, on the 800 Block of Fifth Avenue North, Moorhead. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor Michael Vosburg

MOORHEAD — There's a plot twist in the wild turkey saga city leaders and residents are grappling with.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks has apparently backed out of the partnership recently struck with the City of Moorhead, according to councilwoman Sara Watson Curry.

During its Monday, Feb. 11 council meeting, members approved relocating 75 turkeys to eastern South Dakota, which would have required a Minnesota DNR permit and wild turkey management plan.

Watson Curry told The Forum in an email sent Feb. 20 that South Dakota was concerned that the birds are "too urban, not 'wild' turkeys.' "

"So we are back to the drawing board," she said, adding that the council will be moving forward with the management plan.

The plan will provide an opportunity for residents to provide input and learn more about this topic, she said.

The Minnesota DNR shares on its website that nuisance animals, like turkeys, will interact more with humans as the population expands, naturally, and some of these interaction will be negative. Some birds — typically "jakes" or yearling males — can be aggressive and chase homeowners, pets and kids.

"At first, the appearance of turkeys is usually novel and welcome," the DNR states. "Property owners often regrettably feed the birds to encourage them to stay. It is only after the droppings accumulate, property is damaged, or residents are chased by aggressive jakes that they are considered a nuisance."

Here are some tips from the DNR:

  • Don't feed turkeys, keep them wild.
  • Don't let turkeys intimidate you, instead chase them away.
  • Clean up spilled seeds from bird feeders.

More information on living with wild turkeys is available on the Minnesota DNR website.