A group of wild turkeys is disrupting traffic and harassing seniors in Barrhaven, and while residents want the wandering birds gone, city and provincial authorities say there is little they can do to intervene.

Lorenzo Andrews, 79, said he first noticed the birds when he went for a walk outside his seniors residence, The Court at Barrhaven. 

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Lorenzo Andrews said the birds chased him across the residence after he came upon them. (CBC)

"I heard the noise, look around, and here they were right by my heels, with their wings spread apart and their mouths open, coming right after me," said Andrews.

"So I ran from the corner, up here right to the door and they chased me right to the door," he said. "I don't usually run, but this time I did run."

Andrews has now taken to walking with a cane, not as a walking aid, but for protection.

"In case they attack me again," he said.

Dangerous crossings at Strandherd Drive

The province reintroduced wild turkeys in Ontario in the 1980s for hunting, and they've been thriving ever since, but usually not in the suburbs.

The group of four birds took up residence in Barrhaven about two months ago. 

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Crab apple trees on the residence lawn are a popular destination for the turkeys. (CBC)

Their favourite place is the retirement home, where they gobble up crab apples from trees on the property as well as the occasional meal left by residents.

Then they cross Longfields Road for more leftovers at the Pierre-Savard French Catholic high school, or head onto Strandherd Drive, stopping traffic as they cross.

Barrhaven councillor Jan Harder said she says the birds pose a danger.

"I am concerned there's going to be a bad accident. People are going to dodge to avoid the birds," said Harder.

City won't remove birds

Neither the City of Ottawa nor the Ministry of Natural Resources will remove the birds, and said handling them is the responsibility of the property owner.

Ministry officials say people can limit conflicts with wild turkeys by not feeding them, removing bird feeders and netting over berries and other plants that turkeys may use as food.

Heather Reid, a manager at the seniors home, said one animal control company they called said the best solution was to bring dogs for a day at a cost of $75 to scare them away. The company also suggested using fog horns.

But potentially scaring the birds into oncoming traffic raises liability questions for the property owners, managers at the residence say.

"We would like to see the turkeys taken away, for the welfare of our residents," said Reid.

Andrews would also like to see the turkeys take a walk.

"I don't know why they came here, but this is not the place for them, their place is back in the country, back in the farm somewhere," he said.

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