01/24/2018 14:37 EST | Updated 01/24/2018 17:43 EST

Wild Turkeys Are Driving People Nuts In Edgewater, B.C.

Two residents say the creatures are roosting in their trees and damaging them.

Mark Holmes

EDGEWATER, B.C. — Wild turkeys are creating a flutter in southeastern British Columbia as growing flocks of the birds spend the winter in the region, damaging trees and properties.

Edgewater residents Val and Mark Holmes are the latest to complain about as many as 80 of the large and ungainly birds.

Val Holmes says for the past several years, the creatures have spent winters roosting in their evergreen trees and by spring whole branches have been broken off, needles and twigs litter the ground and the excrement can be at least 2.5 centimetres deep.

"In essence, they're really stripping the branches of their foliage and at the end of the day, these branches are going to die back, and not come back because there's just nothing left on them to grow," Holmes told HuffPost Canada.

She thinks they've picked their property because there's an empty lot across the street that has good visuals for them to take off. She's also noticed that over the past few days, they've started to settle in the neighbours' trees.

Regional District of East Kootenay director Gerry Wilkie blames the problem on a few people who feed the birds, habituating them to human contact and encouraging them to remain near the community.

Edgewater only has about 600 residents, Wilkie told HuffPost Canada, and the turkeys are a big nuisance in the area.

"They're large birds, and as they move to and fro in the community, they're defecating all over the place, and they pose a bit of a traffic hazard," he says.

He's also concerned that they could become aggressive.

He says local and provincial regulations don't cover the feeding of non-dangerous wildlife, so he is working on a regional district bylaw that he hopes will deter anyone providing food to the turkeys, although he admits the process won't be quick.

Kimberly, Cranbrook and Radium Hot Springs have all had issues regulating wild turkeys, which are not native to the province, and Wilkie says some Edgewater residents have even mulled plans to bait a trailer, trap the birds and haul them out of town.

With files from Emma Prestwich

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