Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bob Dunning: City talks turkey with well-meaning feeders


From page A2 | November 08, 2012 | Leave Comment

Just in time for Thanksgiving our beloved city — through its Public Works Department — is now warning us about the hazards of wild turkeys.

“As you may know, our community has experienced a significant increase in the number of wild turkeys,” begins the Public Works document prepared at taxpayer expense.

“While these turkeys are enjoyable to observe and help to reduce yard pests like slugs and snails, they are creating problems for several community members.”

Hey, this is Davis. If you get a complaint or two about something, ban it. Or box it up and ship it to Woodland and let the good folks there deal with it.

“The city receives frequent calls from concerned neighbors regarding damage to landscaping, as well as complaints about turkey feces on driveways and front porches.”

Please, we’re planning on inviting the neighbors over to eat one of these birds in just a couple of weeks. Can you clean up your language, not to mention your driveway?

“Such impacts grow more numerous relative to the number of turkeys roaming around.”

I get it. More turkeys, more complaints. And if the national media gets ahold of this story, UC Davis will soon be known far and wide as Turkey Tech, and what a tragedy that would be.

“Many factors contribute to the persistence of this bird in our community, including a large source population living around the city of Davis, few natural predators in and near town, and access to an abundance of high-quality food resources (including supplemental feeding).”

Does my ’72 Ford with the big engine and the chrome bumpers qualify as a “natural predator”?

“Wild turkeys are typically nomadic during the fall and winter months. They roam around looking for food and normally spend only a few days in any given location. However, the Davis turkeys have concentrated their foraging and roosting activity to the neighborhoods in the vicinity of Covell Park and Rancho Yolo.”

I’m sure they’re gradually working their way over to the Bird Streets, where they will take up permanent residence on Drumstick Drive.

“This behavior suggests that they are finding a source of food that is supplemental to natural availability. In other words, it is suspected that some well-meaning folks in this neighborhood are feeding the turkeys.”

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and the occasional bowl of Turkey Chow.

“In addition to concentrating foraging activity, supplemental feeding attracts new turkeys from outside of town and increases reproductive success.”

And who knew you could get pregnant just by eating more? Forget IVF, just order a pizza.

It’s also interesting to learn that turkeys apparently have some sort of sophisticated communications network to let turkeys in, say, Turlock, know that the turkeys in Davis are fat and sassy and taking advantage of the stupid people who keep feeding them.

“Feeding turkeys also causes them to lose their natural fear of humans, potentially leading to aggressive interactions between turkeys and residents.”

Most of us would pay good money to witness such interactions. Heck, put up bleachers and sell tickets. Along with turkey sandwiches.

“The latter will result in a public health and safety issue that requires the turkeys to be trapped and euthanized. Trapping turkeys has limited success, is extremely labor-intensive, and is expensive for the community.”

Translation: We at Public Works would rather write press releases than chase turkeys through the cemetery with a butterfly net and a gunnysack.

“Please do not feed the turkeys. If you observe others in your neighborhood feeding them, please ask them to stop.”

I just don’t think voluntary compliance is going to work here. Trusting the citizens of Davis to use common sense is an “iffy” proposition at best. Clearly, an ordinance is the only way to go.

Book ‘em, Danno.

— Reach Bob Dunning at


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