Wild turkeys wandering the streets of Barrhaven may be the new reality for the south Ottawa suburb, as the protected bird moves out of its natural habitat in search of food.
People at the seniors residence The Court at Barrhaven at Strandherd Drive and Longfields Road had complained the birds were a nuisance, and after CBC reported their complaints, many area residents have said they've seen dozens of the birds.
"Out of the blue there was two or three of them wandering around in front of a store shop actually, kind of close to the fire station," said Cari Dailey. "It surprised me, shocked me they were in such a populated area."
For the past month, Ottawa's Wild Bird Care Centre has been receiving one to two calls a day from people worried about the birds' safety.
Car centre worker Patty Summers said the loss of habitat has likely sent the birds foraging in more populated areas.
'You're going to see more turkeys'
"This is the new driving danger in Ottawa in the outskirts. As we build more houses in Barrhaven and take away the forest … you're going to see more turkeys," she said.
The province estimates there are about 70,000 wild turkeys in Southern and Eastern Ontario.
The birds were reintroduced in Ontario in the 1980s for hunting, with about 8,000 hunted this year.
Birds are protected species
Ottawa hunter Mike McKeen said for many hunters, going after the wild turkey isn't worth it.
"It's just too expensive. The tags are too much. The seasons are too short. And how you can hunt them is too technical now. It's too much," said McKeen.
Because the birds are protected, the city, the province, even animal control companies can only trap and relocate them one kilometre away.
Ministry of Natural Resources officials said people can limit conflicts with wild turkeys by not feeding them, removing bird feeders and netting over berries and other plants that turkeys eat.
Summers suggests Friday's expected snow storm may also help send the birds back to the woods.
"We're going to get a lot of snow … that's going to make it a lot harder for turkeys to find food on the ground," she said.