Wildlife rehabilitator: Don’t feed the wild turkey on Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton

A Shelton resident who is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator is advising people not to feed a wild turkey that appears to be living near Bridgeport Avenue, close to the Split Rock retail shopping center.

“From time to time I receive reports of wild turkeys in suburban areas that are creating problems,” said Missy Brayton, the wildlife rehabilitator.

“These situations are often created by well-meaning people who feed the turkeys,” she said. “The take-home message to all is, Do not feed wildlife. … Let wildlife remain wild and do not make them into pets.”

Amble food in the woods

Brayton said the wild turkey may have been living in the vicinity since  last fall, and part of the reason it is still there is that it is being given food by humans.

“The woodlands of Connecticut have ample food available to all wildlife species,” said Brayton, noting there are an estimated 30,000 wild turkeys living in the state.

“In the case of wild turkeys, it is particularly important not to feed the birds because when fed in a confined area there exists an enhanced chance of disease being passed from bird to bird and, at times, the turkeys may become aggressive toward people,” she said.

She said she fears the wild turkey could be hit by a car on the busy road, or possibly captured by authorities and euthanized.

The best result would be achieved, Brayton said, by not feeding it, because then the wild turkey will move on to a more rural location.

She said the lone turkey could be a subordinate, and not able to compete in the pecking order of a flock. Or it might be an old hen that has been barren for a few years and has no incentive to socialize with other wild turkeys.

“Often it is difficult for an unrecognized adult [wild turkey] to join another flock,” she said.

Wild hen turkeys typically can survive in the wild to 5 or 6 years old, according to Brayton.