British Columbia

Talkin' turkey: Kootenay town calls for crackdown on feeding troublesome birds

Local politicians in the Kootenay town of Edgewater are frustrated by people feeding wild turkeys and hope the province will put a stop to the behaviour.

Large flock of turkeys has been causing problems in small community of Edgewater

Wild turkeys wander around a property in Edgewater, B.C. A local politician passed a resolution at last week's UBCM convention to call on the province to crack down on feeding the birds and other "problem" wildlife. (Mark Holmes)

Local politicians in the Kootenay town of Edgewater are frustrated by people feeding wild turkeys and hope the province will crack down on the behaviour.

Gerry Wilkie, a director with the Regional District of East Kootenay, blames the increasingly troublesome behaviour of the birds — which includes causing traffic congestion, roosting in and damaging local trees, frightening young children and even defecating on homes — on the turkeys becoming habituated to human food.

At the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, Wilkie spearheaded a successful initiative calling on the province to ban the feeding of "problem" wildlife like Edgewater's turkeys.

"This particular situation of habituated wildlife — and it's not just turkeys, it could be deer, raccoons, that sort of thing — is becoming more and more of a problem in many communities throughout British Columbia," Wilkie told Daybreak South host Chris Walker.

Wilkie says, under the Wildlife Act. the only rules that pertain to feeding wildlife are those that forbid feeding wolves, bears and cougars.

He says changing the rules would give provincial authorities, who are responsible for managing wildlife, the power to step in and stop the feeding.

In response to Wilkie's UBCM resolution and concerns, the provincial Ministry of Environment said it recognizes habituating and feeding wildlife is a problem.

In an email, a spokesperson said municipalities are encouraged to develop bylaws forbidding the feeding of animals.

"The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has been working with regional districts to have bylaws addressing this issue and associated wildlife habituation implemented," the spokesperson wrote.

"The Conservation Officer Service have also been educating residents that have been reported to be feeding wildlife to advise them that this is detrimental to both the wildlife and the community."

The ministry said it will respond to Wilkie's UBCM resolution later in the fall.

Listen to the full interview:

With files from CBC Radio One's Daybreak South