Living with Wild Turkeys

male Wild Turkey The eastern wild turkey thrived in the forests of southern Ontario before European settlement. By a century ago, the species had disappeared from Ontario due to unregulated hunting and the loss of native forests.


In 1984, efforts to restore turkeys to Ontario began. Today, some 70,000 wild turkeys live in areas across southern Ontario.


Turkeys are active during the day, roosting at night to avoid predators. In residential areas, it is not uncommon for turkeys to roost on railings, roofs or sometimes on vehicles.


Adult turkeys feed mainly on plant material, including acorns, nuts, grapes, skunk cabbage, barberry and other berries and tubers. They will scratch the ground seeking food.


In Ontario, natural predators include coyotes, raccoons, opossums, skunks and foxes. Harsh winters can also reduce turkey populations.


Conflicts happen


Wild turkeys may come into semi-rural areas in their search for food and shelter. They may damage gardens and foul decks and lawns.


Very rarely, wild turkeys will act aggressively towards people or pets.

 

Please keep in mind…


Wild animals have the same basic needs as humans – food, water and shelter. Sometimes, humans and wild creatures come into conflict when animals are trying to meet their basic needs. Often, conflicts can be prevented if we're willing to make small changes to how we think and act.


People and wild animals live side by side in Ontario. We all share responsibility for preventing and handling human-wildlife conflicts. If you must take action against wildlife, please consider all your options and follow all relevant laws and regulations.

 

 

Conflicts with Wild Turkeys


How Can I Prevent Conflicts?


Limit food sources

  • Never feed wild turkeys.
  • Talk to your neighbours about the problems with feeding turkeys.
  • Clean up spilt seeds under bird feeders.
  • If you are having a wild turkey problem, consider removing your bird feeder permanently.
  • Put netting over berries and other plants that turkeys may use as food.

 

Make your property unwelcoming

  • Loud noisemakers, such as bangers, starter pistols and firecrackers, can be very effective.
  • Playing bird distress calls can deter turkeys from roosting in an area.
  • Building a scarecrow and moving it frequently can also deter birds from roosting.
  • Predator decoys, such as birds of prey, predator kites or scare eyes can be used.
  • Applying reflective tape or using balloons at points where turkeys are entering a site can prevent damage.
  • The presence of a dog is often enough to scare turkeys away from an area.

 

How Can I Handle a Conflict?


If wild turkeys are nesting around your property

  • Early and frequent use of deterrents is the best way to prevent turkeys from establishing around your property.
  • Don't hesitate to scare or threaten a bold, aggressive turkey with loud noises, swatting with a broom or spraying water from a hose.
  • Combine motion sensors with a sprinkler that attaches to a spray hose to startle birds.
  • Install a 360° sprinkler up in a roosting site or lighting up the roost with bright fluorescent lights.
  • Modify the structure of the bird's night roost by removing branches, adding netting, or placing balloons or other visual deterrents.


Hunting as a tool to reduce conflict

  • If a wild turkey is damaging your property, you may take lethal action to protect your property but you may not cause unnecessary suffering to the animal. You must follow firearm regulations and bylaws.
  • Lethal control should target adult hens because they often lead the flock. Removing only a few birds is often enough to displace the flock.
  • Hunting is an effective way to manage turkey populations and prevent conflicts. You may hunt turkey in the open season with a valid Outdoors Card and appropriate licences and seals. You can also encourage hunting on your property. Regulations, seasons and municipal bylaws must be followed.

 

 

For more information and assistance…

To locate a local wildlife control agent…
• Speak with your neighbours, family, and friends. 
• Look for "animal control" in your phone book or online.

For information on wild turkeys…
• Call your local Ministry of Natural Resources office or the Natural Resources Information Centre at
1-800-667-1940.
• Check out Project WILDSPACE Icon - link to external website

For information on how to prevent conflicts with wild turkeys…
• Check out Ontario's Wild Turkey Management Plan 
 

 

 

 

Return to Living with Wildlife - Species Fact Sheets list


Wild turkeys live in flocks organized by "pecking order." This order is a social ranking in which each bird is dominant over birds of lesser social status.