Too many turkeys in Utah? Bill would set up a second fall hunt
Most everybody enjoys turkey at least once a year, but imagine having large flocks of the live and wild version of the big birds hanging around your house or barn.
Turkeys leave large, frequent and messy piles of waste which can put domestic livestock off of tainted hay and leave people dancing across a minefield of poop.
"Turkeys cause all kinds of problems for property owners," said Rep. Ronda Menlove, R-Garland. "Their population has proliferated and grown quite large. Something needs to be done."
Menlove is sponsoring HB342, the Wild Turkey Management bill, this legislative session. The bill originally would have allowed landowners to shoot turkeys on their property without a permit and out of the hunting season.
That concerned Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) director Greg Sheehan.
"It would have allowed people to shoot turkeys any time for any reason," said Sheehan. "We have hunting seasons for turkeys. Wildlife laws should be followed."
Sheehan does, however, agree with two other parts of the bill. Menlove wants the DWR to do a better job of investigating and mitigating damage done by the birds and she wants more turkeys harvested legally in Utah by setting up a second hunting season in the fall.
Wildlife biologists and hunters have been talking about setting up a fall turkey hunt for years. The bill may help things progress.
After a meeting with Sheehan Monday, Menlove is going to submit a substitute bill leaving out the line that would have allowed people to kill turkeys on their property.
"There are some landowners who love turkeys and some who don't like them at all," Sheehan said. "Some people feed them in their yards and think of them like they are pets. That can create conflicts with nearby neighbors who don't like having turkeys around."
Sheehan said the wildlife agency has moved more than 300 wild turkeys this winter from areas in northern Utah where the birds were creating issues. The turkeys were relocated to remote locations.
Wild turkeys were not found in Utah when pioneers arrived, but efforts to establish populations began in the 1920s. The state began aggressively introducing wild turkeys in 1989 and today an estimated 18,000 to 21,000 birds can be found in the state. Hunters removed 1,777 in 2012.