DALLAS — There’s a growing population in Dallas that is concerning to some, welcomed by others — wild turkeys.
For longtime resident Paul Garmon, the “growing turkey hordes” have been making a nuisance of themselves for the last two or three months. He’s seen flocks of between 20 and 40 turkeys north of Levens Street and holding up traffic as they cross Ellendale Avenue.
“Three or four times a day, there’s a horde of turkeys making a mess,” Garmon said.
However, the turkey population is welcomed by the residents of Dallas Retirement Village, according to facilities director Dale Pader. The campus is located on Northwest Jasper Street, but its small park area shares a border with Ellendale Avenue. Pader said about 20 to 25 turkeys wander around the campus and don’t seem to be causing any problems.
“Plus, the 400 residents are on lockdown,” Pader said, referring to restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Normally, that’s all they’ve got to do is look out their windows. The turkeys give them something to look at. They’re quite friendly.”
That friendly attitude actually compounds Jerry Mott’s job. As deputy chief of police, the responsiblity of tracking the turkey population falls on his shoulders. He said the turkey population overall is down, but he doesn’t have a solid estimate in overall numbers.
Mott said in the northwest corner of Dallas, the aggregate population is several hundred, with flocks of 40 to 50 seen at times.
“They’ve been a nuisance for years now to most people, but to some they’re an enjoyment,” Mott said. “It’s a sticky balance. What makes it difficult is so many people feed them. But the turkeys also chase children and small dogs.”
In the past, Oregon Department of Fish and WIldlife has authorized the city to control the populations through harvests, shooting the toms with birdshot pellets. Mott said they’ve moved away from that method and have been trapping. However, trapping plans have been put on hold twice since last year. Mott said last fall, a large trapping operation was foiled when a nearby power company chipper truck startled away the intended flock for trapping. Then, in the spring, they don’t kill baby turkeys.
Mott began his latest round of permitted trapping last week. To be accepted for an trapping permit, Mott said ODFW requires a strong city ordinance outlining rules for not feeding the birds and other mitigation efforts.
Once turkeys are trapped, the meat goes through a USDA processor and then donated to a local food bank, Mott said.
For Mott, the bottom line in the turkey population is the complaints outweigh the compliments.
“It would be very helpful if people would quit feeding them,” Mott said. “It would help keep them from being as aggressive.”