How to Manage and Deter Nuisance Turkeys

Nov 7, 2023


In the early 1900s, overhunting and deforestation rendered the wild turkey population in Illinois extinct. Decades later, conservationists from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) successfully reintroduced wild turkeys to the state. Today, wild turkeys can be found in every Illinois county, and are abundant in suburban and urban areas, as well as their historical, rural roaming areas.

Unfortunately, this conservation success story has a dark side: as turkey habitats have expanded, so too have the incidences of turkey-related disturbances. While turkeys may be synonymous with Thanksgiving, for many, they have also become synonymous with property damage. Flocks of the fowl wreak havoc on neighborhoods, fields, workplaces, and more.

Crop Damage by Turkeys

Turkeys frequently loiter in agricultural settings and damage grapes, corn, soybeans, and other crops with significant ground cover. Turkeys often don’t target the crops directly but, instead, inadvertently harm them while scraping the earth to search for other food, like insects.

Turkeys may be found on farms year-round. If turkeys are spotted on your farm during growing season, call in expert help to determine whether turkeys, or another bird species, are responsible for crop loss.

Damage to Neighborhoods & Businesses from Turkeys

Loitering turkeys outside building

As turkeys have expanded their territorial reach, they’ve become accustomed to living among humans in suburban – and even urban – areas. Turkeys damage residential and commercial properties in a number of ways.


Wild turkeys have been known to ruin flower beds and landscaping around properties. In their hunt for insects and other food, turkeys scrape away mulch with their feet. In doing so, they often destroy surrounding greenery and remove mulch from desired areas.


During nesting and breeding season, turkeys can become irritable and aggressive. While they don’t normally directly attack humans, turkeys will chase children and put them at risk of tripping and falling. Their large size, alone, can be very intimidating.

Structural Damage

Turkeys are very territorial birds. During nesting season, their territorialism intensifies, and they will sometimes peck at and attack the windows of buildings and cars, mistaking their reflections for predators. This behavior harms both the birds and the structures they attack.

Control Techniques

Grazing turkeys

A variety of management tools can be used to control wild turkey populations.

In Illinois, wild turkeys may be hunted during two seasons – one in the fall and one in the spring. Hunters must have a license and follow state regulations. This strategy may not be employed in urban areas, where hunting restrictions exist. When culling through hunting is not allowed, other deterrence solutions – like exclusion or permitted nest management – may be implemented.

Manage Pest Turkeys with Migratory Bird Management

Crossing turkeys

With over 25 years of experience, Migratory Bird Management can help banish wild turkeys from your farm, residential or commercial property, and more. Because wild turkeys are protected under some local ordinances, it can be challenging to navigate deterrence solutions, and lawfully implement ones that work.

Migratory Bird Management’s team of experts leverage their extensive knowledge of birds, bird protection laws, and biology-based deterrence strategies to assess properties and determine the most effective solution to control turkeys and other pest birds.

For help managing your turkey tribulations, contact us to learn more or schedule a site evaluation.

Contact us to learn about turkey control solutions