Keep Me Wild: Wild Turkey

Two male turkeys
Two turkey hens
Wild turkey standing still
Turkey pecking ground


Feeding wild turkeys can bring problems home to roost. Wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) are classified as an upland game bird in California. Adult wild turkeys can weigh up to 20 pounds. Many people enjoy turkey sightings, and some people cannot resist feeding them. That’s when trouble begins.

Increased human presence and access to non-natural food sources can alter a wild turkey's natural behaviors, diet, and foraging habits. One or two visiting turkeys can soon become a large group (called a rafter) of permanent residents seeking food - with little or no fear of humans. They can damage landscaping or vehicles, and leave droppings on patios or decks. Learn more!

Homeowners, Property Owners & Renters

Use wildlife-resistant containers

  • Always keep trash, recycling, and compost in secure bins
  • Wait to put out trash until the morning of collection.
  • Clean garbage and recycling bins with bleach or ammonia.

Use simple, effective deterrent methods

  • Install motion-activated lights, noise or alarms.

Use “wildlife-smart” landscaping

  • Remove bird feeders from yard.
  • Do not feed wild turkeys and other wildlife
  • Pick ripe fruit off trees, and promptly collect fruit that falls.

Yards, Parks & Green Space

At Home

  • If turkeys begin feeding under hanging bird feeders - Remove the feeders until the turkeys leave the area.
  • If turkeys are causing property damage - Install motion-detecting lights, alarms, or sprinklers.
  • If confronted by a wild turkey that has lost its fear of humans, an open umbrella may help steer it out of your path.
  • Do not feed other wildlife and remove (song) bird feeders. This can attract wild turkeys.
  • Report wild turkey conflict, questions or concerns to CDFW: Wildlife Incident Reporting System.

Prevention is Key

Wild turkey encounters resulting in human injury are not common, but can and do occur. Male turkeys can become aggressive during the breeding season, occasionally even charging, and pecking people. Resident turkeys that are fed or watered by people often become food conditioned and lose their natural fear of people. Prevent conflict by discouraging wild turkeys from becoming too comfortable on your property.

If you encounter a wild turkey – and it looks healthy:

  • Enjoy the sighting!
  • Keep a safe distance.

If you encounter a wild turkey – and it approaches you:

  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Make yourself look bigger by lifting and waving arms.
  • Clap hands and make noise (e.g., yell, blow whistle).
  • Allow it to move away on its own. If small children or pets are present, do not allow them to chase it.

If you encounter a wild turkey – and it attempts to attack a person or pet:

  • Move away quickly. Get to a safe location.
  • Notify the nearest CDFW office after contacting local authorities.

Additional Resources

Homeowners experiencing property damage from wild turkeys may request a depredation permit by submitting an incident on the Wildlife Incident Reporting System.