Drivers beware: more turkeys crashing into windshields

Posted at 11:16 PM, Mar 30, 2017

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Spring is in the air, which means a lot of animals are in the mood for mating and may not be watching where they’re going. And while deer may be the first to come to mind when it comes to animals being hit by cars, there's also been an increase in turkeys hitting windshields.

Just this week alone, two turkeys have flown into two different cars in Indiana, including into a rental vehicle a family was using to drive home from a college visit.  One woman in West Michigan was also recently a victim, after a turkey hit her jeep while driving on I-96 near Nunica.

Jeep front after a turkey collision. Courtesy Jamie Lange.

“I just casually looked up and there’s this turkey on the side of the road,” says Jamie Lange. “It took off and tried flying and then it bounced, you know trying to get off the ground, then it bounced up windshield level. I had a millisecond to duck and cover. And we hit it head on, straight with the windshield.”

Male turkeys known as ‘Toms’ are bigger than females and can weigh around 20 pounds.

“A friend of ours later said that a bunch of turkeys were gathered around it, after he came through. So there was a whole family of turkeys gathered around it. So we felt kind of bad,” said Lange.

Nobody in Lange's vehicle was hurt in that crash

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says to avoid turkey collisions drivers should be cautious when passing potential wildlife zones near wooded areas and keep an eye out for turkeys dashing from the brush.

“Turkeys like other forms of wild life,” says Nik Kalejs, a wildlife biologist with the Michigan DNR. “They are going to be more active as the weather gets a little warmer. For a lot of species this is also breeding season.”

Kalejs says turkey are also more active during the day time, since they tend to roost in trees during the night. He also says if you do strike a turkey, slow down and try to keep control of the vehicle.

Turkey hunting season in Michigan begins on April 17th.

The DNR says if you do kill a turkey, it is illegal to take the roadkill home.