CASPER — Residents here are getting a little fed up with the city’s growing population of wild turkeys acting like, well, turkeys.
The bird that Benjamin Franklin wanted to choose as America’s symbol over the bald eagle is making some local glad and others mad.
Last August, the Casper City Council hoped to help quell the surge of turkeys coming into town by approving a change to city code that makes it illegal for people to feed the fowl. Prior to that, an ordinance exception allowed people to feed the flocks.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife biologist Brandon Werner told the council early last year that people need to stop feeding them because of a growing number of turkeys and nuisance calls the agency was getting.
“Over the past few years, we have been having an explosion of wild turkeys in and around Casper really causing a lot of issues,” he told the council in February 2023. “Artificially feeding these turkeys really congregates them … and feeding amplifies the damage they cause.”
Turkeys Still ‘An Issue’
Nearly a year later, the turkeys are still being total jerks.
“We continue to have a wild turkey problem in the city of Casper,” said Janet Milek, spokesperson for Wyoming Game and Fish. “It’s that time of year that oftentimes there is a lot of complaints from city residents when they kind of congregate and move out of areas, where in other times of years they are more spread out.”
Milek said the department also still finds people feeding turkeys, which magnifies the problem.
“We do encourage people not to feed any wild game within the city limits — or outside of the city limits for that matter — because it does create that artificial congregation, and in Casper more wild turkeys brings in things like mountain lions,” she said, adding that lions also “we have had running through town at different times of the year.”
Casper Police Department spokesperson Amber Freestone confirmed turkeys “remain an issue in Casper.”
“We get nuisance calls still, not a lot of them, but there have been charges for people not following the ordinance,” she said. “We still have turkeys being hit by cars.”
Feeding ban or not, the turkeys continue to do their thing.
A Facebook search shows a turkey on top of a car and others beside it on Jan. 5 with a post: “Turkeys in Casper are getting out of hand!”
But not everyone wants the turkeys to move on.
Longtime Casper resident Lynn Miner, who lives on the 1200 block of Wolcott Street, told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that she and her husband, Jerry, have had turkeys moseying through their yard for more than 30 years. She said most of her neighbors enjoy them.
“They come across the street and into our yard and go up and down the block,” she said. “Usually there are groups of them, anywhere from 25 to 30. We’re not supposed to feed them, but I think some people do.”
There’s even a Facebook page called Thomas Gobbles & Friends dedicated to a particular Casper turkey and his swagger at Casper College. The page has more than 4,000 followers, but hasn’t had an update in a year.
Miner said that Wolcott Street leads up to the college and turkeys often take their time walking across the street, irritating some motorists.
“Instead of trying to run over them, give them the opportunity to cross,” she said. “Wyoming is nature. We’ve got raccoons and squirrels, antelope. I can sit out in my front yard and enjoy the wildlife and not have to go anywhere.”
Milek said Game and Fish believes the population of turkeys has come to the point where some need to find a new home. The agency has been scouting suitable habitat in other areas of the state. She wants to give city residents a heads up if they see staff with traps.
“We are looking to live trap and relocate,” she said. “Just so (residents) know what we are doing.”
Dale Killingbeck can be reached at email@example.com.