The Portage area has seen several turkey groups making their way into town over the last few years. We spoke with the province's Conservation office and Acting Wildlife Manager for Central Plains Dennis Brannen who says it's because our region is considered one of the province's healthy turkey populations in comparison to other populations.
Acting wildlife manager for Central Plains Dennis Brannen says our region is considered one of the province's healthy turkey populations in comparison to other populations.
"We've been generally seeing a bit of an increase of birds since approximately the 2000s," explains Brannen. "We've been seeing good evidence from the number of groups and the number of birds that are in groups over the last decade that this population seems to be generally on the incline."
Brannen says it's simply caused mostly by matters related to habitat. Any reason why it's happened since the 2000?
"That's one piece," continues Brannen. "Certainly weather patterns are part of that, as well. If you have cold springs and things like that, that can be negative toward the bird populations. But if we've had reasonably good spring periods, then that can be a bonus to help increase reproductive output and survival of chicks and eggs in a season. It all kind of has its parts to to why things are going well."
He notes we've seen them come into town as the result of expansion of their habitats. Brannen says there is also the factor of people feeding them indirectly and directly.
"Folks that have bird feed out -- things like that -- can attract turkeys to particular areas," adds Brannen "Those are partly reasons why they they tend to hang out in some areas and they become more noticeable in more built-up human-intense areas within our cities and towns. Some folks like to feed the wildlife and we know that creates challenges or conflicts with humans when those sorts of activities occur."
Brannen says others just like to feed birds in general, and the turkeys catch onto that and take advantage of it.
"This time of year as fall approaches, and we're coming into winter, turkeys will start gathering up into bigger flocks to be together during the winter months, when food is scarcer," says Brannen. "Those all start sort of playing out as we get closer to winter."
He assures that turkeys are no danger to pets or humans, and we should hold a healthy respect for them especially during breeding season, as we would any species.
"In general, folks shouldn't be overly concerned with respect to being attacked by turkeys, as as you would do with any other wild species. Give them their healthy berth and they'll do their thing, and humans should be able to do their thing. Certainly with any wildlife species, there are points in time where you know there's conflicts that arise between humans and the species. So, when those times have come about, we take steps to intervene and to resolve those conflicts by removing individuals from those areas so that we can resolve those conflicts with the wildlife species."
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