Michigan DNR advises residents to engage in 'turkey hazing' to deal with troublesome turkeys

NOW: Michigan DNR advises residents to engage in ’turkey hazing’ to deal with troublesome turkeys

ST. JOSEPH, Mi. -- Wild turkeys are a common sight in Michiana. According to the DNR, groups of them, called Rafters, mainly tend to stick around borderlands, where wooded and open, grassy areas tend to meet.

But this time of year, turkeys start becoming more active, and as mating season begins, male turkeys will start looking to express their dominance and stake out territory, possibly right where you live.

“They want to take over your neighborhood, and you don’t want them to take over your neighborhood,” said Michael Latus with the Michigan DNR.

Videos from Florida show turkeys chasing and harassing residents in a neighborhood. While the DNR said that while they don't have any reported attacks in southwest Michigan yet, they do say the birds should be unwelcome in residential neighborhoods. 

“Being mating season, they’re going to establish their territory and they’re going to try and keep you out of it," said Latus.

The DNR suggest residents perform 'turkey hazing' to keep them from making your yard their territory. 

Latus explained “You let them know you’re loud and noisy and obnoxious. You wave your hands at them, you clap at them, then you yell at them and you walk up towards them.”

This kind of behavior will keep turkeys from staying in your yard.

However, if turkeys are found out in the wild, people should avoid hazing them in their natural habitat. Latus said that if they are encountered in the wild or at a state park, they will likely not be that territorial. 

“As you get closer to them, they’ll saunter faster and faster and then they will go away. I have not had a rafter of them turn on me. They will always run away," he said.

Though if there are some troublesome turkeys in your neighborhood, Latus reminds that they can be handled relatively easily.

“Sometimes you end up calling the DNR and a CO comes out and takes care of them or removes them, but for the most part—it can be handled with just the hazing," he said. 

Latus added that if yelling at the turkeys is not working, a quick spray with a garden hose or sprinklers can also do the trick. 

He also advised that birdfeeders could be attracting the turkeys, and given that avian influenza cases are on the rise-- residents may want to take down their feeders. 

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