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How Are Wild Turkeys Able To Thrive In The Twin Cities?

18October 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thanksgiving is more than a month away, but turkeys aren’t wasting any time visiting homes across the metro. Their fearless demeanor had us wondering: How are turkeys able to thrive in the cities? And where are they always walking to? Good Question. Our Jeff Wagner learned we better get used to our fowl friends.

From our city streets to the places we eat, wild turkeys saunter through the Twin Cities, often with no fear of their human counterparts.

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“I bet I saw two dozen at Burger King in the parking lot,” Virginia Lord said.

“They’re wandering around Uptown, wandering around our lakes,” added Andrew Maleson.

How are turkeys able to thrive in a city? The answer has several layers. It begins with the fact that humans aren’t allowed to hunt them in limits of most metro cities.

The Minnesota DNR said years of living in an urban environment without being hunted makes each new generation of turkeys even more comfortable than the last. They’re even ready to rumble if you encroach on their territory, especially during mating season.

Do they have any nature predators in cities? There are a few animals that will hunt turkeys.

Coyotes will seek out the younger, smaller turkeys. Eagles and hawks will also swoop down for a meal, but the frequency isn’t enough to scare the bold birds from city life. Besides, they’re too busy searching for their next meal.

Usually its nuts and seeds, which people tend to have dangling in bird feeders. That can lead to consistent backyard visits from gangs of turkeys. They’re even willing to gobble up our scraps.

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“We trash a lot of food and don’t finish eating it,” Maleson said.

Whenever they’re on the move, the DNR said it’s typically to find a source of food.

And if there’s some consistency on where to eat, they’ll stick around.

Experts say a wooded area next to farmland is their preferred living environment, but clearly they’re happy to put down roots in a nice family neighborhood.

“A lot of people now, if they’re in a car and they see turkeys coming across (the road), they’ll stop,” Lord said. “We have respect for them.”

If a turkey is becoming a problem around your home, the DNR advises you to make loud noises and make yourself look bigger, similar to how you’d react to a bear.

Also, avoid leaving food such as bird seed so close to the ground. Removing the food source can encourage them to move on.

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