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Bye-bye birdies? Moorhead to mull trapping wild turkeys, relocating them to South Dakota

Wild turkeys forage Jan. 25 in south Fargo. Turkeys, which freely cross the Red River in winter, have been troubling some Moorhead residents. Forum file photo1 / 2
Two wild turkeys play a game of chicken with an oncoming car on Moorhead's First Avenue North near Third Street as seen April 25, 2013. Forum file photo2 / 2

MOORHEAD — City leaders are considering a plan that would involve capturing 75 wild turkeys with large nets fired from rocket cannons and then relocating the birds to eastern South Dakota.

At the Moorhead City Council meeting on Monday, Feb. 11, the mayor and council members are expected to decide on the plan to partner with South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks. The partnership requires a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources permit, granted only with the condition of the city committing to a comprehensive turkey management plan.

The plan emerged after increased complaints from residents about large populations of turkeys within city limits. What exacerbates the situation is that some people are feeding turkeys, which causes more problems with waste, property damage and potential encounters with aggressive turkeys, according to city documents.

"Whatever happens, we need to make sure we have community engagement so we have a common practice and approach in keeping our numbers managed," said Councilwoman Sara Watson Curry, who's sought residents' perspective with online "turkey talk" forums.

Watson Curry said relocating the turkeys would be a "one-time opportunity, so we need to make sure we're working together."

If the council approves the plan and the DNR grants a permit, the city would bait the turkeys with corn at a spot along the Red River, where they flock together this time of year. Staff from South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks would capture the turkeys and relocate them, incurring all costs involved in the process.

The Minnesota DNR needs a management plan from the city by Sept. 1. It has the authority to shut down any part of the trapping operation if there are safety concerns for the turkeys or public.

A DNR spokesperson told The Forum it was too early to comment on the potential partnership with the South Dakota agency.

Kim Hyatt

Kim Hyatt is a reporter with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and a 2014 graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth. She started her newspaper career at the Owatonna People’s Press covering arts and education. In 2016, she received Minnesota Newspaper Association's Dave Pyle New Journalist Award and later that year she joined The Forum newsroom.

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