Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

Wild Turkey Session Spawns Controversy

Press Release
Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists
Submitted by Cliff Bennett
January 18, 2004

Wild Turkey Session Spawns Controversy  

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(Photo by: Tine Kuiper)

Several key issues emerged during question period following a presentation on the re-introduction of wild turkeys in Eastern Ontario at the monthly meeting of the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists, Thursday, Jan. 15 in Almonte. Guest presenter, videographer Franziska vonRosen, showed her noted Pinegrove Productions video entitled Reintroducing the Wild Turkey and MNR wild turkey specialist Scott Smithers followed up with a power-point presentation on the current status of the huge game bird in Lanark County and area.

Introduced by MVFN host for the evening Al Potvin, vonRosen told of the making of the video, indicating key features. She noted the drive to reintroduce wild turkeys to the area came from the Ontario Anglers and Hunters, supported by local fish and game clubs and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. The initial purpose was to provide a game bird for hunting purposes.

Following the viewing of the video, Smithers presented copious statistics on the populations of wild turkeys in different areas leading up to the controversy related to the fact that, due to the success of the population growth, the birds have become a nuisance to farmers because of crop damage.

In the lively discussions following the presentations, a Rosetta farmer asked why farmers have to bear the brunt of the cost of damage to their crops all because some hunters want a new hunting experience. He indicated farmers are already suffering heavily from deer and Canada goose population explosions. In answer to another controversial question, Smithers indicated there was no historical evidence that wild turkeys existed in Lanark County prior to 1992 when the first ones were set loose, making the term re-introduction a misnomer.

After the quest speakers were thanked and presented with a gift of local honey products by Michael MacPherson and Jim Bendell, the discussions continued over refreshments. In the end, the protagonists agreed to disagree but all agreed there is a growing problem with wild turkeys and MNR has to act positively and soon, to remediate the situation.

The February 19 meeting of MVFN will feature a presentation on the black rat snake, which is on the endangered species list. Guest speaker will be MNR Biologist Shawn Thompson. For information about MVFN and its programmes, log on to mvfn.ca