Turkeys were hunted and pushed out of existence by humans in Wisconsin in the late 1800s. However, in 1976 they were reintroduced and are now thriving.
By December of 2017, the first nuisance-turkey-culling operation was conducted by the Madison Parks Division. On the 97-acre Owen Conservation Park on the West Side, only eleven turkeys were taken for their meat, which was later donated to food pantries. The city was permitted to cull turkeys this year as well, “but do not plan to do so," said Ann Shea, Parks spokeswomen. “We will be monitoring the plant community this summer and fall to determine whether another turkey harvest this year would be beneficial to the ecosystem at the park," Shea added.
Turkeys can disturb plantings when they source for food such as insects. However, “in urban environments, it’s often their aggressiveness that gets them in trouble," said Jamie Nack, a wildlife outreach specialist in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, specifically when male turkeys start looking for their mate during mating seasons. To captured the Owen turkeys, the city of Madison contracted with the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The turkeys were captured with a rocket net – a kind of gun or small canon that shoots nets onto animals – and then taken to be butchered.
On Madison’s East-side, wild turkeys infamously starred in a 22-minute film called The Turkeys of Atwood Avenue. The film included turkeys engaged in mating rituals and stopping traffic. In addition to turkeys, Madison has been rounding up geese since 2011, and using methods such as egg oiling to decrease their numbers.