Casper City Council Grapples With Wild Turkey-Feeding Ordinance
Sometimes cute just ain't enough.
So with unspoken apologies to Patty Smyth, the Casper City Council during a work session Tuesday began to deal with a problem with the local cute wildlife strutting, flying and hanging out in inappropriate places.
They're starting with wild turkeys
Casper residents like watching them as they walk and cluck on the streets and around their territories, fly up to fence tops, and entertain only as they can.
For a while, a notorious turkey nicknamed "Thomas Gobbles" amused and annoyed residents, even with his gang getting into a fight with another group of turkeys.
More seriously, wild turkeys threaten to attack people, jump on vehicles and scratch the paint, poop all over the place -- and breed.
So much so that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in January told the Casper City Council about its concerns of the burgeoning wild turkey population and recommended amending its ordinance about prohibiting feeding non-domesticated animals which says in part:
"It shall be unlawful for any person to provide shelter, feed, or to otherwise entice any non-domesticated animal(s) to gather or frequent, with the exception of birds, squirrels, turkeys and feral cats maintained by a keeper onto public area or onto the property of the person."
So on June 19, City Attorney Eric Nelson and Police Chief Keith McPheeters sent a memo to City Manager Carter Napier and suggested the following changes:
"It shall be unlawful for any person to provide shelter, feed, or to otherwise entice any non-domesticated animal(s) to gather or frequent, with the exception of common song birds, squirrels, and feral cats maintained by a keeper, onto any public area or onto the property of the person."
Council members and other officials agreed with the idea, but didn't want to act immediately.
"We're trying to go about this intelligently," Police Chief Keith McPheeters said. "Feeding of non-domesticated animals is creating a problem."
Metro Animal Services would be responsible for enforcement, McPheeters said.
Council member Steve Cathey wanted to include feeding squirrels in an amended ordinance. "They're cute, but they can be destructive."
City Manager Carter Napier suggested pigeons, too. "Pigeons are incredibly destructive."
Mayor Bruce Knell suggested including geese, gaggles of which hang out at the Three Crowns golf course, he said.
Knell added that an amended ordinance isn't trying to eradicate turkeys and other wildlife, but to prevent people from enabling wildlife by feeding them.
Enforcement could get dicey.
"Do we arrest the lady in the park feeding pigeons?," Knell asked.
"The main concern is unintended consequences," Nelson said.
Council member Michael Bond bond says he has a bird feeder, and squirrels like to climb on bird feeders.
Council member Kyle Gamroth said the problem is partly animal, but mostly human, citing a recent incident where he saw someone walking on a sidewalk near turkeys and tossing bird feed in other people's yards.
Cathey said an ordinance could be amended to prohibit feeding all non-domesticated animals, with a few exceptions.
Knell ended the discussion asking for more information to craft an all-inclusive ordinance to be discussed in two weeks.