If you live in the suburbs and feel like you’ve been seeing more and more wild turkeys, you are not alone.
Several were spotted on Montreal’s West Island this week, and experts say it’s a trend seen in many suburban areas.
“We looked outside, and there were six turkeys that day in our front yard,” Pointe-Claire resident Wanda Holst said of an episode a few weeks earlier.
Holst and Michael Lord were surprised and amused to see their law turkeys chewing on grass seeds.
In 50 years living in Pointe-Claire, I had never seen a wild turkey there.
“It was a fun event,” he said. “The neighborhood was a little excited.”
The sightings didn’t stop there. Global News saw turkeys in a Pointe-Claire backyard last Thursday.
“There are many sightings that have been commented on. We’re hearing a lot about it, ”said Elizabeth Landry, a biologist at the Ecomuseum Zoo west of Montreal.
Landry says that more and more suburbanites who come to the zoo are asking about the wild turkeys they see.
“It’s something good!” She exclaimed.
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Experts say years of hunting and habitat destruction nearly wiped out the Northeast’s wild turkeys entirely.
Conservation efforts and stricter hunting rules in recent years have helped its population grow steadily everywhere, even in the suburbs.
“The reason we see more of them on the island in suburban areas is because there is a lack of predators,” said Dr. Tadeusz Splawinsky, a biologist with the Canadian Federation of Wild Turkeys and a forest ecologist at the University of Quebec in Abitibi. -Temiscamingue.
“There is a lot of food there, and this species, they are quite generalists, so they eat a wide variety of foods.”
Turkeys are not dangerous as long as you give them space, although the more colorful males can become aggressive during the spring mating season.
“It is up to us to read those signs and be an observer and not an invader,” Landry said.
Splawinsky is more concerned with large birds flying into windows or getting run over by cars.
“The main problem really with regards to safety is the fact that they can weigh 10 to 30 pounds and they fly, so they can go through the windshield very easily,” he explained.
He pointed to the story of Butters, a wild turkey loved by the NDG community who was killed when he was hit by a car. He said too many people were trying to get photos of the bird and following it. One day, Butters ran into oncoming traffic.
“Really, the lesson here is just leave them alone. Don’t make life easier for them because it’s only going to cause a problem in the future, ”he said.
Both experts advise against going near to take photos and say that feeding the birds is a very bad idea.
“We want them to have this innate fear of humans and predators. When we start leaving food to feed them, we start to desensitize them and they start to be less tired of us and that’s when it causes a problem for them, ”Landry said.
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If they are installed in one of your trees, there are different strategies.
Landry says allowing them to live naturally without intervening at all is the best option and reminds people that humans are responsible for expelling birds from their natural habitat.
Splawinsky said that if birds are becoming a problem in their territory, making noise or spraying them with a hose are options.
As your population grows, some people may feel uncomfortable. However, not Lord and Holst.
“We are much more concerned about squirrels,” Holst said. “We have more squirrels than we can imagine.”
They said they would have no problem seeing more turkeys roaming Pointe-Claire.
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