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Davis City Council Approves Plan To Reduce Turkey Population

City of Davis / Courtesy

There are about 80 turkeys in the city of Davis. Under a new plan, about half of them would be relocated to greener pastures.

City of Davis / Courtesy

UPDATE Oct. 26, 7:07 a.m.: Davis' turkey population has ballooned from six to 80 and the birds are causing problems for some residents.

On Tuesday night, the Davis City Council approved a plan to reduce the turkey population. 

Here's the outline for the population management plan: Wild Turkey Management Plan

Original Post: Some people in Davis say the turkeys are taking over.

The city council will consider a plan Tuesday to reduce the bird population.

City of Davis' Wildlife Resource Specialist John McNerney says a population of six birds has now reached 80 and the city is receiving about a dozen official complaints a year.

"Turkeys often see the reflection in the painted mirror side of a car and tend to want to fight with it during certain times of year and end up pecking and scratching the paint," McNerney says. "In some instances, they can become overly aggressive, just through habituation around humans —associating humans and food."

He says the primary options for limiting the population include trapping and moving them to other areas. Removal is the first part of a long-term plan.  

"This includes enforcement of the City's coexistence policy with coyotes, not necessarily allowing coyotes to live freely among city dwellers in town," says McNerney. "But, that policy and plan promotes coexistence on the outside and the periphery of town. So, we can allow coyotes to be in the urban buffers and the immediate ag areas around town which will help. "

The city is also encouraging Red-tailed Hawk populations because they prey on young turkeys or poults.

McNerney says the turkeys are fairly difficult to trap. The process requires an open space, a giant net and patience.

"If you're looking to mass capture, get as many as you can, you wait for the dominants to eat and then leave and then you wait for the larger group to come on and then you fire on them," says McNerney. 

McNerney says a trapping attempt in one location works only every three years or so, because the turkeys that aren't captured steer clear of the area.

He says besides the complaints made directly to the City, he receives several whenever he's at a public event and a group of people find out what he does for a living.

But, he says, the City isn't getting rid of all of the turkeys because a lot of people seem to like them.

The City hopes to relocate about half of the current population, with the help of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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