Red Lodge, Montana

911: Wild Turkeys

This story on the police blotter amused us (we’re pretty easily amused at the Local Rag) but then it got us thinking. That gang of turkeys that lives around Finn Park in Red Lodge is a real fixture of the town. We’ve all had to stop and wait for them to cross the street. We’ve seen them herding their little ones (called “poults,” by the way) through the park. We’ve even seen people feeding them.

911 Turkey Blotter

Caller reports the turkeys are back. They squawk and peck at her cats. They also left a “mess” in her yard. Caller says that the Mayor, at City Council, gave permission to shoot one with a bow and arrow. Caller thinks, instead, they should be removed from the city. Caller was given the number to Fish & Game.

Feeding them, by the way, is illegal. You can be fined for that. It’s okay to feed the sparrows, hummingbirds, and meadowlarks, but not these big dudes.
Looking for more fun turkey terminology? A female is called a hen. A mature male is either a tom, a gobbler, or a stag. An immature male is a jake. And a big group of them is either a gang, a rafter, or a posse. We rather like “posse,” given that the Red Lodge turkeys were deputized some years back, according to a Local Rag “Believe it or Not.”

So we decided to look for some opinions. We flipped a coin between Facebook and Twitter and picked Facebook. Here’s what we asked and what you told us:


Are the turkeys a cool feature of Red Lodge, or a nuisance that should be removed?

Facebook responses

Alex: They’re totally a nuisance, but a lovable nuisance.

Lee: I like them. I think it is one of the great things about town, especially for those of us who are here to be closer to nature. Just this morning I waited behind a line of cars on Broadway waiting for 4 turkeys to cross and I just smiled the entire time. However, they do seem to be reproducing at a rate that could get out of hand, so there should probably be some kind of thinning of the rafter (they do seem a bit domesticated, after all).

Doug: They are a great part of town. We live in rural Montana next to one of the largest stretches of wilderness in the country. Wild animals are part of the deal. Occasional management of their numbers might be worth looking into, but removing them is ridiculous. Said caller should get a dog instead of cats. Then the turkeys will stop coming around.

Robert: Definitely not something to get rid of. They give the town some character, and the turkeys definitely have that “Red Lodge Attitude”. If the caller reacts like this to turkeys, how do they react to the bears?

Sheila: I love them. They crack me up when they run! The poo is gross, but so is the dog crap in my yard from my neighbor’s dog. Not much you can do about that.

Mike: I like the Wild Turkey. Also Turkey poop is very good for soil and plants.

Bill: Yeah, they need to go. They wake me up every morning at 5 a.m.

Melissa: My cat keeps them out of my yard. He’s quite the turkey herder.

Dianne: I love them, and they use the cross walks. How cool is that?

Gretchen: The turkeys are a delight! Saw about six today and they were strutting about very confidently—now that Thanksgiving is behind us & them.

Amber: I love the turkeys!!!

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