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Have you seen any turkeys in your neck of the woods? Michigan DNR wants to know

People living in metro Detroit say they love seeing turkeys in their neighborhood and hope more are around in the years to come
Posted at 5:44 PM, Jan 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-06 17:44:32-05

BEVERLY HILLS, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking for the public’s help counting turkeys. The population has rebounded from nearly extinct to around 200,000.

As 7 Action News reporter Mike Duffy found out, turkey fan clubs have popped up all over our area.

Kristen Landman lives in Beverly Hills. She’s a member of a local Facebook group called “The Real Turkeys of Beverly Hills!” It’s just one of the places where people in the metro Detroit area track and share pictures and videos of the charismatic local avian celebrities.

“It was especially fun during the pandemic because we were all doing these turkey sightings and they’re fascinating,” explained Landman. “I’m just thrilled that they’re friendly and I had no idea they made a noise, either, besides ‘gobble, gobble.’ They make like this cute little, ‘prrr, prrr’ sound. It’s very cute.”

She said, unfortunately, she had not seen any recently.

“If you asked me a few months ago, I would have said that, ‘Wow! The turkeys are really up in numbers and I can’t believe how many there are.’ And now it’s kind of interesting timing on the DNR’s part because I haven’t seen any, since like the day before Thanksgiving.”

Lisa Purdy of Franklin said she lives in turkey central. She remembered she first started seeing local wild turkeys in the 90s when a female wandered into her yard.

“Then it just got to be a little bit more and a little more, four, and then there was eight, and then at one time there was 44 in the driveway!” said Purdy.

RELATED: Birds of a feather bring people together: Meet 'The Real Turkeys of Beverly Hills'

She said they roam across the area but also seem to be fond of roadways.

“In the middle of Northwestern Highway, I’ve seen them in there. I’ve seen them around 13 Mile, all along the edge of the road. Up the road, they’re up at 14 Mile,” Purdy explained.

Adam Bump, the upland game bird specialist with the DNR explained why colder weather means some people might not be seeing turkeys in their neighborhoods like they used to a couple months ago.

“It’s kind of the luck of the draw. They’re pretty mobile. They’ll move around a lot. Also when they group up it tends to mean they’re in fewer places,” said Bump.

He said he thinks the state’s turkey population is stable, but they are concerned because populations are declining in many states.

“The intent is to get kind of a snapshot of how turkeys are doing, where they’re distributed. And in January they tend to bunch up and are a little more visible so it’s a good time to do that survey,” explained Bump.

He said reporting online is the best way people can help.

“The easiest way is to go to our website. You can go to michigan.gov/turkey. And there’s a link there for reporting January observations,” said Bump.

He has some additional tips for making that report as useful as possible.

“Having the most precise location you can get, and time is helpful for us for the survey,” Bump said.