They could starve. When turkeys become habituated to eating feed supplied by humans, they learn to look for hand-outs instead of hunting their own natural foods. Cans of cracked corn and bird seed don’t supply the nutrients found in a wild turkey’s natural diet. If young turkeys grow up learning that food comes from humans, they don’t develop the necessary skills to forage naturally.
It can spread disease. Wild turkeys are subject to several diseases, including blackhead disease and avian pox. Infectious, contagious diseases can be spread among wild and domestic birds. When turkeys congregate in your yard eating hand-outs, they’re walking around in droppings and saliva that may cause an entire flock to become ill. Because turkeys travel considerable distances and mingle with other flocks, a disease that starts in your yard could spread across several counties fairly quickly.
They can become aggressive. Wild turkeys which become conditioned to human foods, and habituated to people, are likely to cause damage or to attempt to dominate people. Once this behavior is established, it can be very difficult or impossible to change. Be sure to be bold around turkeys-especially when they first show up in an area-and encourage others in the neighborhood to do the same.
Please don’t put the animals or your neighbors at risk by feeding wildlife. A wild turkey’s natural place in the wild, and their ability to thrive depends on their skills in avoiding predators and a natural diet. For more information, visit http://www.dfw.state.or.us/wildlife/living_with/turkeys.asp.