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Turkeys Culprit In Series Of Medford Blackouts

Theodore Scott (power lines); Brian Bull (turkey)
Flickr.com, KLCC

Utility officials and Medford locals are trying to resolve a series of power outages caused by wild turkeys.

Since early November, the gobblers have caused four such outages, aggravating more than 1,600 customers every time.  

Credit Theodore Scott (power lines); Brian Bull (turkey) / Flickr.com, KLCC
Flickr.com, KLCC

Tom Gauntt is a spokesman for Pacific Power.  He says there’s talk underway on addressing a flock living near some power lines.

“Every so often they flutter around and cause this outage.  Sometimes unfortunately, it results in a turkey fatality," Gauntt tells KLCC.  

"(Oregon Department of) Fish & Wildlife don’t want anyone just to go in there and clear out the turkeys in a vigilante-type way.  Basically there’s some protections we can put on the equipment there….ah, sleeves.  It won’t stop them from flying into the wires, but it can protect the connections.” 

The turkeys can’t be legally hunted within Medford city limits.  Wildlife biologists say one problem factoring into the outages is people feeding the birds, which encourages them to flock and gather in urban areas.

Copyright 2016 KLCC

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. He is a 20-year reporter who has worked at NPR, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including three Edward R. Murrow Awards and the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award in 2012.