Wild Turkeys Will Be Relocated to Safe, Natural Location

Posted February 26, 2023 in Your Community by David Ball

One of the two remaining turkeys of the trio that have gained significant community attention during the past year is being kept in a safe location by state wildlife officials until the final bird can be safely caught and they can be released together.

After the other turkey is captured, both birds will be safely relocated to an appropriate natural environment outside of Hilliard. The relocation site does not allow hunting but will allow the birds to interact with other wild turkeys.

The City and wildlife officials had previously hoped the turkeys would naturally move to a different location. Unfortunately, humans have made it more attractive to stay in Hilliard by feeding them, approaching them for photos, and otherwise habituating them to close contact with people. For their own safety and for the safety of people, finding them a new home out of the suburbs is now the best outcome for everyone.

It is never recommended to feed or approach wild animals. Until the third turkey is captured, residents are reminded not to feed the bird and to avoid getting close to it for photos.

City staff and state wildlife officials made the joint decision to relocate the birds because of the dangers they have been facing due to traffic and human interaction, as well as the risk they pose to people. No state or City permit is required for state wildlife officials to relocate turkeys when necessary.

It is not uncommon for wild turkeys to be found in suburban communities such as Hilliard, so relocating them for their own safety is generally a last resort.

However, recent incidents made it obvious that relocation was the best thing for the turkeys’ safety – as well as for the safety of humans living, walking, and driving in the area where the birds have been living:

  • A significant part of the concern for these particular turkeys is that humans have been feeding them, which is unhealthy for the birds, increases their dependence on humans, and can lead to human-wildlife conflict. This habituation has encouraged the turkeys to remain in the area rather than move to a more natural place.
  • In January, a resident took one of the turkeys to the Ohio Wildlife Center after the bird was injured by what wildlife experts think may have been an animal bite. It is uncertain at this time if that bird will recover enough to be returned to the wild, but even with a full recovery it would be irresponsible to return that turkey to a suburban setting.
  • In a separate incident, social media photos showed two men catching the turkeys and trying to put them in their personal vehicle.
  • The turkeys frequently walk and fly into busy traffic, which could cause a significant accident that could injure humans.
  • Unconfirmed reports of an individual attacking the birds with a stick was made in January.