It is forbidden to take justice into your own hands

It is forbidden to take justice into your own hands with a wild turkey

Louiseville Mayor Yvon Deshaies last week welcomed the slaughter of a wild turkey that had frightened citizens in a residential area of ​​his municipality. However, in Quebec it is illegal to kill a wild animal in such circumstances.

Video of a citizen apparently being attacked by a wild turkey quickly went viral last week, prompting Louiseville's mayor to call for the animal's head and say he feared for the safety of residents. The bird was shot the next day by someone who was reportedly using a slingshot. “He didn’t suffer,” Mr. Deshaies said.

With wild turkeys on the rise in the southern part of the province, many have questioned whether this action is legal. Conclusion: probably not.

Specifically, in Quebec it is forbidden to kill, capture or relocate wild animals as they are protected by the Wildlife Conservation and Development Act.

Article 67 of this law also stipulates that “a person or the person providing assistance to him shall not kill or capture an animal that attacks him or causes damage to his property or the persons under his care or is responsible for the maintenance if it can scare them away.” to protect that animal or prevent it from causing harm.

This means, for example, that if a turkey, groundhog or white-tailed deer comes to feed on the plants or shrubs on your property or in your garden, it is prohibited to kill or capture that animal for transport .

Anyone who slaughters an animal like the Louiseville turkey faces a fine of up to several thousand dollars. However, Quebec's environment ministry has not ruled on last week's high-profile case. “Quebec Wildlife Protection has launched an investigation into the wild turkey case in Louiseville. No further information will be released to the public in order not to compromise the investigation process,” the ministry said in an email.

According to information on the department's website about the species, “turkeys are usually afraid of light and sudden noises.” As with other birds, the best way to scare them away is before they become accustomed to visiting private property.” And since these Since birds “move more often by walking than by flying, installing fences around houses is an effective measure.”

We add that “slaughtering or relocating turkeys are not adequate solutions to reduce the inconvenience caused to certain people.”

Successful hunt

Although it is illegal to kill a turkey that appears threatening to us, sport hunting in Quebec is becoming increasingly popular and successful as the wild turkey population in the province increases.

According to the latest official government statistics, 9,359 turkeys were killed in spring 2023 and 352 during the fall hunting season. Most birds were shot with a rifle, but some hunters choose to use a bow or crossbow instead. The 2023 spring hunting season attracted “a record number of fans” with 22,653 permits sold, according to Quebec's Environment Ministry.

According to the indicators the department uses to monitor population status in hunting areas, particularly hunter observations and hunting success, “wild turkey populations are doing well in the regions where they have established themselves.”

In the past, the species was hunted very intensively, so much so that it practically disappeared in the United States and was exterminated in the territory of Quebec. Reintroduction efforts and the presence of suitable habitat have allowed this bird, which can weigh almost 10 kg, to regain ground. In Quebec it is found mainly in the south of the province in the Montérégie, Estrie, Centre-du-Québec, Outaouais and Chaudière-Appalaches regions, but its distribution gradually extends north and east.

To watch in the video