Billings requests ministry relocate wild turkeys

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KAGAWONG – The issue of person(s) feeding wild turkeys in Kagawong has again rose its head and Billings council, concerned for the safety of the public and vehicular traffic, are calling on the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to have the birds relocated.

“Our bylaw enforcement officer has prepared a memo for council, which I think is self-explanatory,” said Billings Mayor Ian Anderson at a council meeting last week. “He has been making efforts with individuals to refrain from feeding deer and turkeys and we have bylaws in place (prohibiting this feeding).” 

Mayor Anderson said having these animals on local roads, “poses hazards to drivers (and pedestrians) on the road, as well as for turkeys.”

Arthur Moran, bylaw enforcement officer for Billings, had informed council in a memo dated March 5, 2020, “I feel there is a need to provide council with an update regarding an ongoing bylaw issue of persons feeding turkeys on the roadway on Maple Ridge Road in the Hamlet of Kagawong. It was on January 14, 2020 when I was given the first complaint regarding persons putting feed on the roadway on Maple Ridge Road and since then there have been multiple complaints submitted to the office.”

Mr. Moran explained, “since that time, I have performed the following actions: 1) I have made weekly inspections of the roadway to gather information on where the feed is being distributed. During my inspections: I have made personal contact with some residents of the neighbourhood to solicit more information; I have sent a letter to a resident who was putting out feed for deer in their driveway; I have sent a letter to a resident who has been identified by others as one of the persons who is distributing feed; I have had a personal interview with the person who has been identified as putting feed on the roadway as well as another person who also came to the interview; and I have contacted the MNRF requesting their presence in the area for awareness and enforcement support. I was told that there wasn’t anything that they were able to offer in either area. I also contacted the OPP with the same request and received a response similar to the response I received from the MNRF. I have submitted a letter to the district officer of the MNRF requesting that they perform a relocation of the flock of turkeys to another area. I am currently waiting for their response.”

“I have a question,” said Councillor Bryan Barker at the council meeting of April 20. “I read Arthur’s memo, which was thorough and he has done quite a bit of work investigating and interviewing local residents.” He asked why Mr. Moran has not moved to enforcement of the issue.

“As the mayor said, I submitted this memo March 5 and was still fielding calls from members of the public (with complaints and concerns with turkeys being fed and providing a potential danger),” Mr. Moran replied. “And many people said they would be contacting council. I was also waiting for a response from the MNRF on relocation (of the turkeys). And last week, I left a message with our MPP Michael Mantha asking him to look into why we haven’t had a response (from the MNRF).”

Mr. Moran said he has also continued monitoring of the situation, and “I haven’t seen the 20-25 birds walking down the road for awhile.”

Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack said she was in favour of action being taken to relocate the turkeys.

“I wondering if there is something else we have to do, (Mr. Moran) asked the ministry and they have not responded. They will probably not step forward to relocate the birds,” said Councillor Barker.

Mayor Anderson explained that to relocate turkeys to another location would have to have permission and assistance from the MNRF. The MNRF needs to respond in a timely fashion and indicate whether they can lawfully be moved. If you don’t receive a response soon get back to me and maybe I can make a request as mayor of the township to the ministry.”

“Our main issue is one of safety for members of the public and the birds themselves,” said Councillor Barker.