Moorhead council moves forward with turkey relocation

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

MOORHEAD — The Moorhead City Council approved the opportunity to relocate 75 turkeys to eastern South Dakota at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 11.

“Residents love wilderness and nature and because of that, a lot of folks really enjoy seeing wildlife near our community,” City Councilwoman Sara Watson Curry said. “Unfortunately they have not been treated like wild animals, and so the population has ballooned and it has caused undue burden for specific residents and workers in the city.”

Mike Oehler, area wildlife manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources based in Fergus Falls, previously told The Forum that the three options for controlling the birds are to limit feeding, baiting and trapping them with a “rocket net” or allowing a minimal hunting season.

The partnership with South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks that the council approved today would go forward with the second option.

This method will require a Minnesota DNR permit as well as a wild turkey management plan, which the city of Moorhead would have to develop by Sept. 1.

City residents can participate in the development of the plan and it could also benefit South Dakota's turkey restoration plan.

All costs for trapping and moving the birds will be incurred by South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks.

As soon as a resolution is passed, and the appropriate permits and plan are in place, the city of Moorhead community service officers would begin pre-baiting with corn along the Red River in order to attract a flock to a specific area.

South Dakota staff would use large nets deployed by rocket cannons to try to safely capture turkeys.

Turkeys have become a nuisance to some residents and Moorhead council members have reported receiving more complaints lately.

Watson Curry said that the council will need plenty of public input for their wildlife management plan in the coming months and said she’s, “super excited at this once in a lifetime opportunity to work with DNR to alleviate our issue.”

The council does not yet know an estimated date of turkey relocation.