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Turkey problem not so simple

 


A turkey problem in Electric City is more complicated that it seems.

The council had invited wildlife agent Eric Braaten to its meeting Tuesday night to talk about wild turkeys and what the city could do about their ever-expanding numbers.

If council members expected that Braaten represented some kind of Pied Piper that would lead the turkeys out of town, they were disappointed.

Braaten lives in the city, on acreage, and often has them on his property.

He explained that there was little the city can do about the growing number of turkeys, a number creeping towards 100.

He said that there are currently about 110 turkeys in Electric City, Grand Coulee and the Delano areas.

“They (turkeys) are social birds and congregate into larger numbers in the winter,” Braaten stated. He said he counted 20 toms in the city recently and that there are probably more than 60 within the city.

He said there will be increasing numbers with new chicks each year.

Part of the problem has been the annexation of public land by the city, some 500 acres a few years ago. The public lands in the past could be hunted, but now fall under the city ordinance that forbids anyone from discharging a firearm within city limits.

There are “huge” numbers of deer in the city for the same reason, and since a farmer near Osborne Bay put in a huge alfalfa field, it has attracted even more.

One resident said he saw about 50 turkeys in one bunch recently and there are sightings of deer running 10 or more together throughout the city.

“There is a large number of deer being killed on SR-155 out near Osborne Bay,” Braaten stated.

Geese are being hunted on the golf course, and that’s within the city.

Public safety is at risk when firearms are discharged within the city. Grand Coulee Police Sgt. Gary Moore said gunshots in the city would draw police attention.

Braaten said there might be a way of creating a special wildlife hunting zone on public land within the city, but wildlife management would have to guide any such decision.

Council members agreed that a workshop should be developed to determine if anything can be done.

Feeders for quail, throughout the city for years, attract both deer and turkeys. Not all people see turkeys as a problem, and some people feed them.

“There are not a lot of options available to control the number of turkeys,” Braaten stated.

The turkey issue was brought up by Councilmember Birdie Hensley, who stated that something needed to be done to control their numbers.

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