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People urged to keep away from any wild turkeys

Jennifer Sprouse • Sep 14, 2012 at 10:42 PM

After months of zero turkey activity, the feathered holiday animals have re-emerged and residents are urged to steer clear.

City Commissioner Clayton Stout said he’s already responded to a wild turkey sighting in the Regions Bank parking lot, near the Towne Acres community and as wildlife commissioner, he’s already made contact with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency.

On Nov. 28, TWRA Officer Jeff Prater authorized the termination of two wild turkeys in the same Regions Bank location, which sparked a mixed debate on the fate of the birds.

This time around, Stout hopes to avoid that scenario altogether.

“We didn’t get into a lot of specifics as far as what (TWRA was) going to do, but bottom line is they were not going to do what they did in the past. There was going to be more of a concerted effort to relocate (the birds),” he said. “For me personally, I don’t want to see what happened last time and I’m just trying to work with the public and work with the wildlife agency as far as making sure that we’re in cooperation together.”

Although he is unsure just how many turkeys were seen in the area, Stout said from his experience, turkeys tend to roam in packs.

“They usually hang together,” he said. “When I’ve seen a turkey, there’s usually about six together.”

As wildlife commissioner, an appointed position by the governor, Stout predicts that there will be more people calling in about the turkeys in the weeks ahead.

“As they become more visible, more people will probably start to call,” he said. “It’s important that we don’t feed them because that was the problem initially, was that the turkeys became way too comfortable with people. Right now, from what I’m being told is these birds are ... wary of people. They try to stay away from people.”

He suggests that nearby residents and citizens spotting the birds pay them the same courtesy.

“One way the public can help is to keep us informed and also not to feed them,” Stout said.

He said anyone wanting to report a turkey sighting can call the TWRA Region 4 office in East Tennessee at 800-332-0900.

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