A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Why are turkeys here? For safety, man!

Written September 21st, 2019 by Hasso Hering

This West Albany flock does some leisurely grazing in Takena Park on the evening of Sept. 18.

It’s not clear why wild turkeys have gathered this summer in a sector of West Albany, but we can guess. Maybe they have figured out where it’s safe for them to settle in for the winter and spring.

An online publication of the Wildlife Division of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife makes clear that wild turkeys, not native to Oregon, were brought to the state so that hunters could shoot them.

But of course in Albany and every other town where turkeys have been reported showing up in recent years, shooting anything is not allowed. So as long as these wily birds stay within the city limits, they are perfectly safe. For turkeys, towns are sanctuary cities.

Even crossing the streets in town, the birds have nothing to fear as long as they move slowly, as they were doing every time I’ve seen them. Drivers see them and slow down, even stop until the last one of the little band has reached the other side.

ODFW says turkeys were first successfully introduced in 1961. That was done with the Merriam’s subspecies of the wild turkey, Meleagris gallopavo. Then, in 1975, the state brought in a second subspecies, the Rio Grande variety. Now, according to the agency, more than 10,000 wild turkeys have been transplanted to sites all over the state.

There is no mystery about why they would go to all that trouble. They wanted to provide more game animals so people would buy hunting licenses and go after them. The first season was in 1987. ODFW says that “Oregon’s six-week spring turkey season is among the most liberal in the United States.”

Various commenters on previous turkey stories on this site have suggested that these birds can leave a big mess if they like your yard and stay a while. If that happens to you, you can thank the state wildlife managers who brought the birds’ ancestors to Oregon starting 58 years ago. (hh)

And sometimes, like here on the 17th on Ninth Avenue, they stop traffic.

9 responses to “Why are turkeys here? For safety, man!”

  1. Don says:

    The city is a nice food source as well as sanctuary. I bet some people occasionally feed them. They remember that well.

  2. J. Jacobson says:

    Homo Sapiens imagines itself as the supreme expression of either God’s divine providence OR sheer dumb evolutionary luck. Humans believe they have “consciousness” while other creatures do not.

    Yet, canines have figured a way (in North America) to have the ingenious Homo Sapiens pay for their entire doggy lifestyle.

    The turkeys are here because Homo Sapiens thought humans were “smarter” than all the rest. The folly of any idea that Homo Sapiens sits above the rest of the universe demonstrates how ill-prepared Homo Sapiens is for the future. Pity the poor turkeys. They were brought here against their free will.

    • J. Jacobson says:

      As a species, Homo Sapiens May have to consider State authorized reparations payments to the following:

      Turkeys – for enslavement
      Spotted Owls – for real estate fraud
      Various salmon species destruction

      and any of the thousands of really bad policies adopted by misguided, egomaniacal creatures poorly equipped to make even basic choices.

      Homo Sapiens careens down this path, mistakenly believing Homo Sapiens controls the natural order. It would be laughable except that Homo Sapiens’ continued existence depends on Homo Sapiens recognizing that Homo Sapiens is merely another temporary image flashing-past on the 8K tv screen of a very strange universe.

      So, relax on the Turkey Crisis. The Powers-That-Be are already developing a “fix” for this pressing matter. Keep your eyes out for future threats.

  3. MsJ says:

    Turkey drugs must be expensive.

  4. TOM KNIGHT says:

    WA State held their first Spring gobblers only hunt in April 1969. It almost never was. If interested, you can read about it in TURKEY COUNTRY, page 26 of July-August issue, online. It is the offical publication of NWTF (National Wild Turkey Federation). This year is the Golden Anniversary of that momentous season.

  5. Bill Kapaun says:

    “Maybe they have figured out where it’s safe for them to settle in for the winter and spring.”

    Maybe even Fall;)

  6. HD says:

    They are also on the east side of town, near Timber Ridge School & the treeline to the west. It’s been a fun sight to see… especially for the kids.

  7. red says:

    actually they are not illegal to hunt in city limits. the problem is you are only legally allowed to use certain types of hunting equipment to hunt Turkey. so technically you could still hunt Turkey in town if the tools you can legally hunt Turkey with are also legal to use in town.

  8. Bob Zybach says:

    Yes, they were brought here for many millions of dollars and intended solely for target practice. Meantime, native grouse are tastier and their number has been diminished even during my lifetime. Now they have to complete with a bunch of imported turkeys (and Chinese pheasants and chukars) to persist. I much rather wish we had put all of that time and effort into our native game birds and songbirds instead of catering to a very small population of hunters that likes to do target practice with exotic birds. What’s wrong with learning to hunt ducks, geese, quail, and grouse and have our educators and game managers focus on these species?


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