Barrhaven is a sizable bedroom community within greater Ottawa. Because there’s a wide span of greenbelt/open-space between it and the main contiguous city, it sometimes gets razzed as “Far-haven” and “Bore-haven”.
But this is about turkeys, the wild kind, some of which now rule those suburban streets.
Wild turkeys in Barrhaven began to make the news several months ago, after causing traffic disruptions and becoming pests at a senior’s complex.
Some residents think it’s fun to see wild animals close at hand, as with this video of turkeys at a backyard feeder, or this video taken from a car, with a child’s excited voice asking Daddy about the wild turkeys on the way to work!
A CBC article from Dec 2012 finds others are less enthused:
Barrhaven councillor Jan Harder said she says the birds pose a danger.
“I am concerned there’s going to be a bad accident. People are going to dodge to avoid the birds,” said Harder.
Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources has a fact sheet on “Living with wild turkeys“. (The clue is in the title: live with it.) One can also download a 44-page “Wild Turkey management plan for Ontario”. Rules and language regarding what’s permitted can seem ambiguous. For example:
While landowners have the right to take lethal measures to mitigate turkey damage, the MNR does not condone the killing of wildlife if other options are available.
In this situation – on urban streets outside of hunting season – it appears to be illegal to kill the birds or move them more than a kilometer away, which would hardly solve the problem.
Existing levels of conflict may be about to get worse. According to a recent article from the Ottawa Citizen:
It’s a difficult time of year for young male turkeys, explained Jolanta Kowalski of the Ministry of Natural Resources. They’re looking to mate but it’ll be a few weeks before any females are interested.
Typical. Blaming disgusting manners on some purported lack of interested females. Men! (Oh, right. we’re talking about wild birds.)
Barrhaven resident Amy Lennon doesn’t find the situation amusing. She posted a video of aggressive turkeys engaged in “who-owns-this-road?” posturing as she walked to work. (Advisory: there’s an abundance of frustration and colorful language in her ‘running’ narrative.)
According to the Citizen article, the Ministry’s Kowalski says humans retain some legal remedies:
“You can kick them,” she said. “Seriously. You can kick a wild turkey in the chest and it won’t do serious harm but it will be a deterrent.”
Make yourself look bigger and yell at them, she added. In general, try not to run away: turkeys, like most animals, have an instinct that’ll make them give chase. Standing your ground and scaring them off is a better bet.
It’s all funny until the beady eyes and waist-high pointy beaks are headed your way, eh?
Barrhaven – not just a sleepy suburb. Here come the horny turkeys and wild times, right on the sidewalks and streets.