Large flocks of wild turkeys are being spotted in Kimberley again, with the area seeing most of the bird action being Upper Chapman Camp.
Populations of wild turkeys have been rising in the Kootenays for the past five years or so, last year 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.
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.
City of Kimberley CAO Scott Sommerville says that the City has not yet amended the deer bylaw to include other species, likely for two reasons.
One, the feeding bylaws are difficult to enforce, and secondly, because wildlife are a provincial responsibility, the City cannot just pass a bylaw around them.
“Because wildlife is a provincial jurisdiction, the bylaw has to go through the Inspector of Municipalities office in Victoria. The deer feeding bylaw had to go to the province.
“Certainly if Council directs staff to amend the bylaw, we can do so.”