One of these things is not like the other. Kimberley residents are used to the presence of wild turkeys in Chapman Camp. They’ve been hanging out in the area for several years.
But this year, there’s a stranger in the group, an albino wild turkey.
Residents are reminded, that albino or not, wild turkeys are not native to the area and should not be fed.
Populations of wild turkeys have been rising in the Kootenays for the past five years or so, prompting provincial government staff to ask Kimberley City Council to amend their ‘don’t feed the deer bylaw to include other species, including wild turkeys a few years ago.
Wild turkeys are not native to western Canada. The only place in Canada where they are native is southern Ontario. All other populations have been introduced. In the Kootenays, turkeys were introduced to the Creston area in the 1960s and subsequently expanded throughout the region, according to information provided by the provincial government Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources.
There are ecological concerns about any introduced species, since they can prey on species at risk, such as snakes, and compete for habitat with native grouse, at times causing grouse nest failure through egg dumping.
And, as is always the concern with wildlife in urban settings, well-meaning people feeding them can increase population sizes.