Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It used to be a big deal to spot a wild turkey, but now days they seem to be everywhere.
The DNR said this spring’s turkey hunt harvested the third-most turkeys ever in the state of Minnesota.
Hunters were also allowed to hunt in more parts of the state this year because turkeys have become so widespread.
From the city, to the suburbs, to rural Minnesota — numbers are at an all-time high.
“It’s a little side of nature being closer here in northeast Minneapolis,” said Pastor Karen Williams. “So, it’s fun to see them.”
As a pastor, Williams always wanted her own flock.
She got exactly that during her first Sunday at Mount Carmel Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.
“Some of the congregational members brought me outside to see the turkeys and talked about being the unofficial flock of our church,” Williams said.
And over the past few years, they’ve become the unofficial mascot of northeast Minneapolis. No matter the season, they are frequently spotted on Johnson Street.
“I named these two Poncho and Lefty,” said Missy Dodge of the clothing store Rewind, while showing a picture of two turkeys.
For a while, Poncho and Lefty were regulars at Dodge’s clothing store. They would often walk right inside, and it got to the point where she made T-shirts commemorating them.
Then she thinks they got a girlfriend and stopped coming around.
“I’m surprised at how many people say they see them,” Dodge said. “From the city out to the suburbs, everyone’s talking about turkeys right now.”
Due to no hunting regulations, turkeys were basically killed off in Minnesota around 1900. Decades later, Minnesota received wild turkeys from other states and began releasing them in 1973, and the numbers have taken flight.
Ten years ago, 6,516 turkeys were harvested.
This year, that number nearly doubled. It’s now at 11,324.
“It seems as though the neighborhood loves having them here,” Williams said. “They are part of the community and people look forward to having them wander through.”
But the birds can also be a nuisance, creating traffic issues when they meander across the street.
And the DNR said they’ve received reports of the turkeys going after people.
But they are not dangerous, and the DNR said they can be scared off pretty easily if you stand your ground.