When Councilman Gary Beach floated the idea of contacting state officials to discuss taking over Libby’s wild turkey population on March 7, his colleague Hugh Taylor wished him well.
“We may have to pick up this conversation to see if we can get some help from the state,” Beach said.
“Their first response was that they didn’t want to do anything,” Taylor replied dryly.
Both Beach and Taylor serve on the town’s wildlife committee, which authorities set up several years ago to tackle the seemingly wild animals that regularly roam Libby. The group was tasked with coming up with a plan to tackle the city’s deer population, a priority due to the spread of the chronic wasting disease in the first place.
But the turkeys were following close behind.
Beach said he brought up the subject after a resident contacted him about the nuisance animal. Mayor Peggy Williams said she also heard concerns about the municipality’s wild turkey population.
“I know there are a lot of turkeys within the city limits, and there are a lot of people complaining about those turkeys,” she said.
In 2019, Tami Laverdure-Fitchett, former Libby-area game warden for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, described the turkeys as both intelligent and difficult to trap. She remembers often connecting county residents with hunters to take care of the birds, but shooting turkeys is prohibited within the city limits.
Although he noted the state’s disinterest in caring for Libby’s turkeys, Taylor recommended that his colleagues continue to pressure them for help.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t keep the pressure on them,” he said.
The city’s deer management plan, approved in early 2021, includes methods to control the population, manage deer-related issues, and ensure cooperation with state authorities. Under this plan, state personnel would take the initiative to trap deer in the city.