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Controversy after wild turkeys euthanized, donated to food bank

Some people living on Gibson Jack Road in Pocatello are upset over the killing of 24 turkeys that became a nuisance in the area.

The turkeys moved in just after the Charlotte Fire back in 2012.

The population grew, becoming a nuisance to local residents.

“Wild turkeys are cool when there are 3 or 4 of them, they’re not cool when you got a 100 of them on your porch,” said Jim Betty, former Chapter President of the National Turkey Federation.

That’s when Fish and Game got involved.

“Sometimes what we hear is that turkeys are getting into stored crops, just being a nuisance with their vocalizations, their roosting in trees and rooftops, and on properties, they scratch things out, they defecate, so they can be a real pain,” said Zach Lockyer, Wildlife manager for the southeast region.

As a result, 24 turkeys were captured, euthanized and the meat was donated to the Idaho Food Bank.

Betty believes they could have handled the situation better.

“What happened to the turkeys didn’t need to happen the way it did,” said Betty. “I would have liked to see more communication between the local chapter and the fish and game department. We have had a very good working relationship with the Fish and Game Department. This seemed to happen a little bit on the sly.”

However, Fish and Game say the turkeys become too used to living around people feeding off their property.

“Taking them far away from people, where food is limited, their chances of survival would be pretty low and the fact that its winter and we’re limited in the places where we can release them,” Lockyer said.

But that’s where the disagreement begins.

“That’s not true, this is a great time of year if you’ve trapped birds, what better time of year when there’s not a lot of snow so they can go out and forage on their own,” said Betty.

“The conditions weren’t right for that so we used a different tool, it was 24 birds, it wasn’t massive numbers, and the meat went to a good cause,” Lockyer said.

“Its great that the food bank ended up with the food in the end, but it’s really not the way it should have happened, they’re a wild animal and it’s not like we should feed the food bank with a wild animal,” Betty said.

Both Idaho Fish and Game and the National Federation want to remind you to never feed wild turkeys to help avoid this situation in the future.

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