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Mating Season Brings Turkey Trouble To Minnesota Neighborhoods

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (WCCO) -- Several Minnesotans have been having close calls with some not-so-friendly birds in their neighborhoods, even in their homes.

Sunday evening a homeowner in Shorewood found a wild turkey standing on the living room couch. Police said it busted through an upstairs window.

Last week, a turkey took on an Apple Valley police officer's squad car.

"It's a pretty bird," said Capt. Nick Francis, the officer who recorded a video of the standoff.

Monday, he took WCCO to the neighborhood where the close encounter happened. Nearby was a group of turkeys with one in particular ready to size up his vehicle again. It circled the SUV several times.

"You can hear just little small chirps and purrs," he said hoping it wouldn't peck the nice paint job.

During the encounter last week, Capt. Francis said he was trying to leave the neighborhood when the turkey stood in front of his SUV. Its tail was fanned out and followed him closely near the front left tire as he moved slowly in reverse.

"That turkey came around and started a strut off with my front bumper and hubcap," he said.

Bob Fashingbauer is an area wildlife expert with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and wasn't surprised when he saw Capt. Francis' video. "It's a territorial thing," said Fashingbauer. "(The turkeys) are vying for the hens' attention."

In other words, it's mating season, which he said happens in April and May. That means no other Toms, which is a male turkey, or vehicles for that matter are allowed near their hens. Cars would pass down the block and the turkey would chase them down until they left the immediate area.

"A lot of times they're pecking the people's windows and so forth, they're seeing their reflections and thinking it's a rival male and they're going after that male," said Fashingbauer. He added that the reflection of car paint can give off the same effect.

Sometimes the birds can peck their way through a home window.

"They can be up to, beyond 25-30 pounds for the real big ones. So there's a lot of force there," he said.

One forced its way into a Shorewood home. Police said it broke through an upstairs window when the homeowners were gone. They said the homeowners found feathers in the basement, leading them to believe it went on a tour before they encountered it perched on a couch. South Lake Minnetonka officers were called in and helped shoe it out of the home.

Fashingbauer said wild turkeys are comfortable in residential areas. "They're not being hunted, they have a lack of predators and they got a good food source."

Sometimes that food source is bird seed, which we found piled in a homeowner's yard which was in the territory of the Tom that wouldn't leave Capt. Francis' squad car alone during our interview. Once he drove off, the turkey turned its attention to our news car. Honking our horn and lurching forward with our SUV wasn't enough to make it move out of the way. But in most cases, Fashingbauer says being loud and establishing dominance will scare off a male turkey.

"Whether you got something in your hand, board or broom or whatever, or just use your hands but be loud, be boisterous and make noise and herd it out," he said. "You have to set up a pecking order where the human is the aggressor."

Once mating season ends, Fashingbauer says the aggressive nature of the Toms should calm down.

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