wild turkeys

Bulletin photo by Ethan Weston

Wild turkeys congregate in a lawn along North Burritt Avenue on Tuesday. Feeding wild turkeys in city limits is now a misdemeanor punishable up to $750 in fines.

BUFFALO (WNE) — It's official: Feeding wild turkeys within city limits is now illegal. The Buffalo City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to prohibit feeding the turkeys and, hopefully, reduce the likelihood of the avian inhabitants overrunning the city.

Resolution 1413 — which Mayor Shane Schrader jokingly called “the turkey ordinance" — adds turkeys to the list of wild game that cannot be fed. 

Violating the ordinance is a misdemeanor punishable by up to $750 in fines.

The ordinance emerged as the city dealt with frequent complaints about the turkeys roaming around Buffalo. Dozens of birds congregate in Buffalo's neighborhoods, leaving droppings and feathers in their wake, and they can often be seen stopping traffic as they stroll unperturbed down Main Street. 

Buffalo game warden Jim Seeman said he counted almost 100 turkeys in the flock that had been causing trouble recently.

The abundance of turkeys in Buffalo isn’t just an inconvenience. Turkey feces is harmful to dogs, according to Pet MD. 

When the turkeys gather in large groups — such as when they find a buffet left out by a well-intentioned neighbor — they also risk exposing themselves to contagious diseases such as avian influenza, which has spread throughout Wyoming. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 13 of Johnson County’s wild turkeys have died of avian influenza in the past year.

Game and Fish has spent several weeks harassing the birds, using techniques such as making loud noises, shooting pellet guns near the birds and herding them to different locations, hoping to convince them to turn tail and find a new home. 

That appears to have worked. While a few remain, there are not nearly the 100 that there had been, Seeman said.

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