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Philomath goes for the kill on turkeys
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Philomath goes for the kill on turkeys

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Council targets turkey shoot permit; city drops political sign cases

PHILOMATH - The Philomath City Council voted 5-2 Monday night to request a permit to kill as many as 10 wild turkeys at the west end of town.

About 20 of the big birds, which have been fed by some residents, have prompted nuisance complaints in neighborhoods where they have scratched or torn up landscaping and roofs, awakened residents with noises early in the morning and defecated on lawns and decks.

City employees also will look into an ordinance that could ban feeding the turkeys.

Even if turkeys are shot, other birds will return if there is plentiful food, said Nancy Taylor, an Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife biologist.

"I have a feeling Corvallis is going to be going through this process very soon," Taylor said. Turkeys also are causing problems at the county seat's western border.

In Philomath, the plan is for Philomath police officers to shoot the birds. The meat will be given to a nonprofit, preferably a local agency, City Manager Randy Kugler said.

Taylor said she supported the city's decision because hunting by the general public isn't allowed within city limits, and trapping the birds doesn't work well because they are too smart.

Councilor Jerry Jackson Sr. suggested that local hunters lure the birds onto nearby county land, thus solving the problem. Turkey hunting starts Wednesday.

Jackson and council members Angie Baca, Matthew Bierek, Scott Klain and Ken Schaudt were in favor of the motion.

Mayor Chris Nusbaum, who has problems with the birds at his residence, and Councilor Charla Koeppe, whose husband is a police officer, voted against the motion.

No residents spoke in favor of the turkey shoot, and only one person spoke against obtaining the kill permit. "I'm totally against that," said Staci Monroe of Philomath. "I don't get it; moving to the forest and complaining about deer."

In other news, the city attorney has dropped municipal court cases against two residents who put up their election signs too early. Philomath's sign ordinance doesn't permit the display of political lawn signs until 45 days before the election.

"We don't think you can enforce it as written," City Attorney Scott Fewel said.

Time restrictions on yard signs, tied to election dates, are seen as infringing on the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, according to a city attorney's memorandum.

The city could have time-based regulations that apply to all signs regardless of the purpose or content, but that could have undesired complications for the community. For example, signs expressing pride in Philomath High School's sports teams also could be prohibited under such an ordinance.

The council will discuss how to correct its political lawn sign ordinance at a future meeting, Nusbaum said.

Read more turkey talk, and get more info about a potential RV park, pending litigation and an update on Beau Vencill at Kyle Odegard's blog.

Kyle Odegard can be contacted at kyle.odegard@lee.net or 758-9523.

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