Baker County's turkey success story

August 18, 2008 12:00 am

Wild turkeys have thrived in Baker County since the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife let loose the first flock here 20 years ago.

This is a good thing if you don't mind plucking a few feathers to get your drumsticks.

It's not so great, though, if you have a bunch of hay stacked. Or own a porch.

Turkeys have proliferated to the point of making themselves nuisances in some parts of the county, in particular Pine Valley and parts of Baker Valley.

The birds, lacking access to indoor facilities, tend to defecate on whatever's nearby — including haystacks, porches and decks.

This fowl problem, though, has created an opportunity for turkey hunters.

This fall, 100 hunters will be able to stalk turkeys in Baker County between Oct. 11 and Nov. 30 (the latter date, by the way, is three days after Thanksgiving).

Until this year, autumn turkey hunting in the county was confined to the Pine Valley area, and the state sold just 50 tags.

Hunters have until Sept. 15 to apply for one of the 100 tags.

ODFW officials said they hope the expanded fall hunt will pare Baker County's turkey population — and protect haystacks and the like.

Baker County's wild turkey tale is the sort of success that ODFW aims for when it introduces a game bird.

The agency's challenge now is to strike the proper balance — enough turkeys to sustain the population and to ensure hunters a sporting season, but not so many that ranchers and homeowners come to despise the birds.