(Trail Creek, IN) - Police are urging motorists not to try and chase away a wild turkey venturing into the middle of a busy La Porte County intersection.
The latest sighting at Michigan Boulevard and Johnson Road was about 7 a.m. on Tuesday. According to police, the caller reported trying to get the turkey to move, but the bird refused.
Trail Creek Town Marshal Steve Dick said numerous complaints about what he believes is the same turkey at the intersection surrounded by woods have been taken since about a week before Christmas. In addition, several drivers have stopped in the road before veering around the turkey.
In some cases, drivers and their passengers have climbed out of vehicles in the travel lanes to try and shoo away the adult-sized bird from the roadway. By doing so, Dick said drivers and their passengers are placing themselves and other motorists in danger.
“Human life is certainly more valuable than the life of that turkey. Although we don’t want to minimize that turkey’s life, we certainly don’t want to see somebody get hit,” Dick said.
The intersection is in Michigan City, just outside the boundaries of Trail Creek, a community of about 2,000 people. Officers from both departments have responded to sightings and encounters with the bird.
According to police reports, at least one person approaching the bird felt threatened by the turkey, who also attacked or tried to attack several vehicles. Dick said the Indiana Department of Natural Resources was contacted last week to address the situation.
DNR spokesman Tyler Brock said a conservation officer has been out there at least once but could not spot the turkey anywhere in the surrounding area.
In any situation like this, Brock said the plan could be anything from trapping the turkey to relocating it or having it medically examined for a possible stay in a wildlife rehabilitation center. Euthanizing a turkey is also not out of the question depending on the extent of the threat posed to public safety.
According to Brock, it’s not uncommon for a male turkey to show up at the same spot, even in the middle of a busy intersection, during the spring mating season. Male turkeys mark their territory and drive away other male turkeys from the area to reduce competition for mates. Vehicle attacks might occur from a turkey seeing what appears to be another male turkey in his reflection in the metal or glass. Since it’s not mating season, Brock wouldn’t speculate on the reason for this turkey’s behavior.
Brock also pointed out that a female turkey shouldn’t have any chicks nearby to protect since its eggs hatch during the summer.
“Sometimes wildlife will do different things at different times of the year for whatever reason. It could be sick. It could be stressed. It could be just a natural instinct kicking in,” Brock said.