Wild Turkey Egg Hunt to Help Curb Urban Birds

Residents of the South Hill region of Spokane, WA will be combing the yards and woods around their property searching for eggs this week, but not the brightly colored kind purportedly left by the furry Easter Bunny.

Instead, these eggs have been deposited by ground-nesting wild turkeys that have become so numerous and problematic to property owners that biologists must resort to unusual measures in an attempt to reduce this year’s clutch.

At a public meeting held at South Hill earlier this week, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife conflict specialist Candace Bennett explained the two population-control options to the assembled audience.

The Spokane Spokesman-Review reported the first option involves wildlife department staff removing eggs from nests and destroying them. As a second option, participating property owners will coat the eggs they find with corn oil to prevent continued growth.

Washington wildlife officials estimate up to 150 wild turkeys currently roam the South Hill region of Spokane. Bennett said the egg hunt will focus on the Cliff-Cannon and the Rockwood neighborhoods where most of the concerns have originated. She hopes as many as 50 resident volunteers will participate.

Bennett said her office has received more than 60 turkey complaints since December from Spokane residents concerned about the volume of bird feces in their yards and the level of noise the flocks produce some mornings. In addition, some parents fear the droppings can carry salmonella bacteria and might be a pathway to infection, she said.

Wild turkey hens usually lay eight to 12 eggs in the spring, with incubation taking about 30 days.

Volunteers will be trained where to look for likely nest locations, primarily in ground cover or in shrubs. Addling the eggs–covering them with oil–is intended to address the likely scenario of a hen producing an additional clutch if the original eggs are removed.