Green Guide

Formerly captive turkeys causing damage near Mitchell

Posted November 26

— Domesticated turkeys surrounding northern Mitchell are causing problems on private property, in comparison to their wild counterparts.

The South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department plans to increase the turkey population in most areas of the state, but have made an exception for an approximately 70 square-mile area in Davison and Hanson counties, the Mitchell Daily Republic (http://bit.ly/2gqrWgJ) reported.

Department Terrestrial Resources Supervisor Josh Delger said the turkeys wander onto private property, eating crops and chasing children.

"People buy these birds and they'll release them on their farm or wherever," Delger said. "They grow and they populate, and those are not the birds we want out there in the wild."

Andy Petersen, a conservation officer in the Davison County area, said the issue of domesticated turkeys outnumbering wild turkeys is not new. However, the number of domesticated turkeys has risen to the point that they now outnumber wild turkeys.

"It's steadily been getting worse since the population has been increasing right around the city limits there, specifically to the east and to the north," Petersen said. "I would say just from what I've been seeing the past few years, there's definitely getting to be more of these domestic release birds than the wild Eastern turkeys."

Peterson said while the formerly captive birds are not considered wild, they can still provide a high-quality hunting experience.

"We really want to be able to push our actual, wild birds as much as we can," Delger said. "We probably can't get enough people on all these properties to make a difference on the short term, but anything to try to knock those numbers back would be a good thing."

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