ANN ARBOR, MI — The University of Michigan’s infamous north campus turkey appears to have strutted its way into the great beyond.
After they were unable to shoo the territorial bird away from the area surrounding the UM Transportation Research Institute, 2901 Baxter Road, and based on reports of aggressive behavior that included chasing bicyclists, walkers and joggers, Ann Arbor police requested the Department of Natural Resources permanently take care of the problem, DNR Law Enforcement Division Lt. Andrew Turner said.
A DNR officer, accompanied by Ann Arbor police, shot and killed the gobbler about 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 16, he said.
It wasn’t entirely clear if it was the same turkey that was accused of attacking passersby last spring. University of Michigan police speculated in May that the turkey, which was making the social media rounds at the time, may have been hit and killed by a passing car
“I have a feeling it was the primary turkey that has been most concerning to people,” said UM Transportation Research Institute spokeswoman Francine Romine, who works in a campus building nearby. “He wasn’t aggressive, but he could be perceived as being aggressive. He would walk up to people, people would try and take his picture … so we were concerned and wanted to move him someplace out of harm’s way …
“We were very surprised when yesterday morning law enforcement was seen chasing the turkey across Baxter Road … And then we heard shots fired and that was it.”
Romine said she made calls to try and figure out what happened, starting with UM police, who were unaware of the incident.
She “called the city and finally the city said that we should contact the DNR, so when I finally got a call back from the DNR … they told us that they had been contacted by the city of Ann Arbor Police Department to euthanize the turkey, that he was deemed a menace.
“The (DNR) attempted to capture him to re-home him but he was acting aggressively toward the officers and that is why he was euthanized.”
Turner said he suspects it was the “ongoing problems associated with this bird, coupled with the difficulty and resources required to catch and relocate the bird, that led Ann Arbor police to make that determination.”
Following its demise, the bird was transported to the DNR’s lab in East Lansing to be screened for possible disease. Turner said he didn’t know how long testing might take to complete.
Ann Arbor police haven’t responded to questions from the Ann Arbor News/MLive regarding their decision to have the turkey shot.
Romine said she’s made multiple calls to the DNR when turkeys arrived in the area and began causing some problems this spring.
The DNR and UM Facilities and Operations said they wouldn’t capture and relocate the turkey, according to Romine. Decoy cut-outs of coyotes that rotate in the wind were installed near the UM Transportation Research Institute building with the intent of keeping the turkey away, and notes posted asking people to avoid interaction with the wild turkeys.
Romine wonders “what happened between last week and yesterday that the city would deem it needed to be euthanized.”