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Monday, March 27, 2023

Turkey terror: National Capital Commission closes Mud Lake paths due to aggressive gobblers

The NCC has been monitoring the turkeys “for a while now”

The Nationwide Capital Fee quickly closed strolling trails at Mud Lake within the Britannia Conservation Space because it tries to seize and relocate a trio of tempestuous toms.

The toms — male wild turkeys that turn into more and more aggressive throughout the spring mating season — have been harassing walkers alongside the Mud Lake trails for the previous a number of weeks. On Friday, conservation officers took motion, closing off entry to the paths and beginning a turkey hunt.

Benoīt Desjardins, a spokesperson for the Nationwide Capital Fee (NCC), stated in an electronic mail that its conservation officers have labored alongside its biologists on a plan to “safely seize and relocate the turkeys with a minimal quantity of stress to the birds.”

The NCC has been monitoring the turkeys “for a while now,” Desjardins stated, and final 12 months despatched out messaging and posted indicators at Mud Lake about how residents ought to take care of turkeys.

“The NCC Conservation Officer crew and biologists have visited the positioning lately and decided that three male turkeys should be relocated off-site instantly as a consequence of issues for the general public and the turkeys,” Desjardins stated.

“These turkeys are clearly habituated to people, probably as a result of they’ve been steadily fed by the general public. They are going to be launched at an NCC web site within the Greenbelt.”

The toms, nonetheless, had different concepts Friday, evading the turkey trappers.

“The turkeys have been reluctant to method our conservation officers whereas they’d their tools in hand. We strongly advise to keep away from Mud Lake in the meanwhile, whereas the NCC evaluates the easiest way to proceed,” the Desjardins stated late Friday afternoon.

The walking paths at Mud Lake in Ottawa are temporarily closed while the NCC tries to capture and relocate three aggressive male turkeys that have been terrorizing walkers.
The strolling paths at Mud Lake in Ottawa are quickly closed whereas the NCC tries to seize and relocate three aggressive male turkeys which have been terrorizing walkers.Photograph by Blair Crawford /Postmedia

Naturalist Dan Brunton says the turkeys are daring interlopers who “gained’t take no for a solution,” notably once they get used to people feeding them.

Wild turkeys have been native in sure components of Ontario, primarily round Lake Erie, however have by no means been pure to Ottawa, Brunton stated. As soon as hunted to close extinction, the hen was reintroduced into Ontario within the mid-Nineteen Eighties in response to the searching foyer.

Brunton, who lives close to Mud Lake, stated the NCC helped launch turkeys at Mud Lake a long time in the past, however these birds quickly died out. The present gaggle of gobblers possible arrived on their very own in the previous few years as Ontario’s turkey inhabitants has boomed.

The turkeys use sharp, sickle-shaped claws known as spurs to claw on the dust, on the lookout for snails and different small critters to eat. Not solely is that harmful to the forest flooring, however the turkeys additionally outcompete native species reminiscent of ruffed grouse and small, ground-feeding songbirds.

A number of walkers have described their very own encounters with the turkeys on Fb pages devoted to Mud Lake.

“I assumed I might simply stroll by and they’d scatter like most geese or geese however I suppose the turkeys are very territorial as a result of one among them actually attacked me (jumped on me and began hitting me with its wings and toes),” wrote one particular person. “In case you see the turkeys at Mud Lake proper now, it is best to flip round or keep away from them, don’t stroll by means of them as a result of they aren’t pleased. They’re very territorial proper now.”

In the meantime, another person described being approached and pecked from behind.

Wild turkeys stand greater than a metre tall, have a wingspan of up 1.4 metres and may weigh greater than 10 kilograms. They’re surprisingly robust flyers and roost in timber at night time. The mating season, when preening males flash their engorged, blood-red snoods — a fleshy appendage above their beak — to woo turkey hens, happens between late February and early March within the southern U.S., and in April right here within the northern finish of their vary.

An adult male wild turkey.
An grownup male wild turkey.Photograph by Tony Beck /Provided

Native birder and photographer Tony Beck says he’s conscious of the confrontations at Mud Lake, though he’s by no means had an issue with the turkeys himself.

“Individuals are feeding them and that’s an issue as a result of the animals have turn into fairly fearless. It’s not regular for animals to be tame like that,” Beck stated.

“One of the best factor to do is give them area — as we must be doing to all of the animals there at Britannia. After they’re tame like that, they’re simple to {photograph} and plenty of photographers will get too shut. I’ve achieved it myself and needed to remind myself to again off.”

As soon as a seldom-visited refuge for locals and wildlife, Mud Lake has boomed in recognition because the COVID-19 pandemic when it was one of many few pure areas not closed to the general public. The Pals of Mud Lake Fb web page has greater than 7,700 members.

The final time the conservation space was closed was in July 2021 when biologists trapped and relocated a wayward black bear.

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