DNR official welcomed to Clay County and Moorhead’s Urbanized Turkeys 

county commission

Karen Newman 

Rob Baden, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Area Wildlife Supervisor appeared before the Clay County Commission’s October 19 meeting to introduce himself to the commission and explain a recent boundary change made for increased efficiency. “I want you to put the name with a face,” he explained. He added that he plans to attend some township board meetings, saying, “I want to be a good neighbor.”

Baden announced, “Clay County will be managed out of Detroit Lakes.”  He explained that in the past, the Fergus Falls supervisor was in charge of Clay County. Baden elaborated, “I manage Clay [County], Norman, Mahnomen and Western Becker.  It made sense since we drive through Clay County to get to Norman. It’s good to get to know the constituents here. I’ve been here seven years now, so I’m pretty familiar with the area. I’m a Minnesota boy. I grew up in Shakopee.”

Supervisor Baden explained depredation issues in Moorhead that have already come to his attention, which include geese and ‘critter calls’.

Commissioner David Ebinger commented, “Just to throw a challenge out to you, have you got an answer to urbanized turkeys?” He forewarned Baden that his office will undoubtedly get calls about Moorhead’s urban turkey flock. Chuckling, Ebinger said, “This will be on your radar within a year, from Moorhead, not us! Our [Clay County’s] turkeys are rural.” He continued, “It’s been a huge issue.  I was police chief here and that fell in our lap on many occasions.” He joked, “You are going to hear about this; I can assure you.”

Ebinger explained that at one point, South Dakota was ready to accept the local flocks under a turkey management plan that was facilitated by the DNR, but the plan was rejected when it was revealed that the turkeys were urbanized. He said, “To the best of my knowledge, there has not been a fix on this yet. Unless they were aggressive, or had some bad habits, the turkeys have been something we’ve had to live with. Just like deer, they become a real nuisance when people feed them and that is the ‘urbanized’ issue.” Ebinger said that at this time, the only solution has been to put birdfeeders up high and to not feed the turkeys in the hope that they will forage in the woods, ‘like God intended’.

Baden replied that urbanized turkeys will be a new challenge for him because Moorhead is the largest city in his territory.

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