New Brunswick

Wild turkeys 'too aggressive' for New Brunswick, says birder

A Moncton-area naturalist says he's amazed the province is considering bringing wild turkeys to New Brunswick.

Alain Clavette says the birds would chase away native species, are destructive to gardens

The Department of Environment is studying a proposal to introduce wild turkeys into the province.

The idea to introduce wild turkeys to New Brunswick is too wild for some naturalists, who say adding the bird to a new ecosystem defies logic.

Alain Clavette, a well-known birder from Memramcook, said wild turkeys were released in Quebec to create a new hunting industry a few years ago, and now the population is out of control.

"Go talk to any farmers down in the region south of Montreal and they'll tell you how much they hate those birds," Clavette said. "They are super aggressive. Wild turkeys will destroy any flower arrangement, any garden that you are trying to keep."

Clavette said there may have been a small population of wild turkeys in New Brunswick at some point, but the environment has changed.

He said there are not as many natural predators, such as wolves, anymore, and once they reach the suburbs, they are hard to remove.

A group of hunters is lobbying the government to allow the release of the birds, so they can hunt them.

However, Clavette said once those hunters are gone, the birds will chase away native species and "we'll leave these problems to the next generations."

"It just goes beyond belief that in 2013 some authorities would go ahead and give the O.K. to introduce a new species to an ecosystem where it does not belong," said Clavette. "It doesn't have any business here."

The Department of Environment considers wild turkeys to be an exotic species, and is conducting an environmental assessment before it makes a final decision.

This isn’t the first time a group has lobbied the provincial government for a wild turkey hunt.

In 2009, the Maliseet Nation Conservation Council suggested a wild turkey hunt as a way to attract more hunters to New Brunswick.

The provincial government dismissed the idea at the time.