Turkey banding

Scott Rasley, top, and Don Hand, wildlife conflict biologists with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, gather up wild turkeys netted during a capture operation March 9 in the area of Brevor Drive in Walla Walla. The birds, which had been damaging property and creating headaches for residents in the neighborhood, were taken to a remote area on Jasper Mountain and released into the wild.

A bunch of birds committing fowl deeds were caught up in a dragnet recently.

The wild turkeys were part of a large flock that had taken up residence in the Brevor Drive-Brevor Place neighborhood northeast of Walla Walla High School.

Although amusing to some, the wild birds were a major headache to many.

The birds were damaging lawns, cars, houses and, in the case of male turkeys, attacking schoolchildren, said Scott Rasley, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife conflict biologist. 

“People don’t mind a few turkeys, it’s when you have a lot that they become a problem,” he said.

“The toms are particularly aggressive because it’s their breeding season,” Rasley said. The birds were pecking the sides of shiny dark cars, shredding decorative bark on lawns and “leaving their calling card everywhere,” he said in reference to bird droppings.

So early Wednesday an ambush was set up in the front yard of Donna Wujek’s home. At about 6:45 a.m., as a batch of turkeys came out and gathered on the lawn, Rasley and Don Hand, another wildlife conflict biologist, touched off a 40-foot by 60-foot rocket-powered net that arced over the surprised birds.

“It’s pretty explosive. I was surprised at the force,” Wujek said about the event.

The net nabbed 11 hens and one tom, which Rasley, Hand and Corrie Thorne-Hadley, another WDFW biologist, gathered up, banded for identification and then bundled into boxes.

Rasley said the birds weren’t harmed by the capture. “They were in good shape,” he said. The turkeys were driven into a remote area at the head of the North Fork Coppei Creek drainage and released into the wild where they belong as opposed to urban settings.

This was the first turkey capture the WDFW officers have done this year, Rasley said.

“We did two last year, one in Walla Walla and one in Dayton,” he said. 

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318.

Andy Porter has been with the Union-Bulletin since October 2000. His beats include Walla Walla County, city of College Place, Washington State Penitentiary, agriculture, environment as well as a wide range of general assignment topics.

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