- Associated Press - Friday, March 14, 2014

MANTUA, Utah (AP) - It’s gotten a little quiet out there. Too quiet.

The influx of wild turkeys in this town seems to have dissipated in recent days from the flock that numbered as many as 50 thronging bird feeders and hay stacks this winter. Warmer temperatures have apparently eased their need. Plus people have stopped filling their bird feeders here because of the intruders.

But Police Chief Mike Johnson worries they may be already nesting.

“Oh, good Lord,” he said of the wild turkey eggs’ 25-day gestation, with clutches of ten or more eggs.

“At first when they were a novelty people were feeding them, chumming them in,” said Johnson, also mayor of this town of about 800. “But I think we’ve gotten over that desire.”

The previous winter they only numbered a dozen or so.

Carol Nelson Norman is an amateur photographer and is enjoying adding the invaders to her portfolio. She’s counted as many as 100 in one group this year.

“They’re all just everywhere together,” she said. “It’s been thick.”

They’ve done no serious damage, Norman said. “They roost in my trees. They’ve eaten the berries off my bushes. They’ve just been fun to watch.” Like Johnson, she wonders if they’ll be coming back in numbers after spring nesting.

“They used to just kind of hang out at the cemetery, but now they’ve been just everywhere at the south end of town,” said Janice Johnston. “They’re wild, so who knows where they came from. Maybe they forgot to migrate.”

“We’ve had ‘em the last couple years,” said Johnston, a city clerk. “But they have just triple-multiplied from what they were before … the problem is they leave a mess, they leave a little something extra behind when they go.”

Mantuans now also wonder about their spring plantings from the visiting gang, one of several collective nouns for turkeys, along with rafter, gobble, and brood.

“I’m worried about people’s gardens,” said the mayor/chief. “If thirty of them show up, you’re going to have your garden gone.”

The state Division of Wildlife Resources says Mantua’s problem may be tied to a larger wild turkey infestation in neighboring Cache County.

A significant flocking of the birds has rafters gobbling as high as several hundred the past two winters in the Paradise-Avon area. It’s just over the hill mere miles from Mantua, said Corrie Wallace, landowner assistance specialist for the DWR’s Northern Region.

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