Wildlife officials failed to capture wild turkeys before attack on Sacramento delivery driver
Last winter, a mail carrier was making deliveries in the Arden-Arcade neighborhood of Sacramento when he was attacked by a “particularly aggressive” and “massive” male turkey.
The carrier, who was armed with some kind of stick, hit the turkey, killing it, California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said.
There was reason to suspect that someone was feeding the neighborhood’s wild turkeys, which began attacking drivers and disrupting deliveries from the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, Amazon, UPS and other carriers.
“I’ve been around about 25 years, so I kind of know turkeys,” Capt. Patrick Foy, a spokesman for the department’s Law Enforcement Division, said in an interview with The Times. “And I just looked at it, and I’m like, ‘Oh, this is the biggest turkey I’ve ever seen.’”
The incident in late February was the culmination of a conflict that had been bubbling for months between the turkeys and delivery drivers. Internal documents and videos obtained by the Sacramento Bee show that wildlife officials attempted to intervene for months prior to the incident but were unsuccessful.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service was called to capture the wild birds. An agent “searched for the birds on at least 2 occasions in early January but could not locate the offenders,” the Fish and Wildlife Department said in internal documents.
Since the incident with the mail carrier, wildlife officials have determined that a neighbor had been providing the turkeys with “copious quantities” of food, Foy told The Times.
“It probably contributed to the massive size of the turkey in question, because it was eating just an unlimited amount of food every day from this particular household,” Foy said shortly after the incident. “We are addressing that issue as a major contributing factor to this overall problem.”
The resident was told to “cease feeding these birds,” the Bee reported. It was unclear if the person would face fines.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reportedly began receiving calls about turkey attacks on mail carriers in October 2021. Officials advised against feeding the birds and suggested using tools such as an open umbrella to chase them away, the Bee reported.
A coyote attacked a toddler in broad daylight and tried to drag her away before her father rescued her, according to security video and the family.
“By mid-October, it was evident that the birds were not responding to normal ‘shooing away’ and one of the mail carriers was injured on his hand,” the agency said in a report obtained by the Bee.
The agency sent members of its Human-Wildlife Conflict team to the neighborhood to investigate.
Investigators, seen in videos shot by Foy, could walk right up to the turkeys, causing them to move away, but the birds were seen chasing a mail truck down the street, the Bee reported. One video obtained by the Bee shows two turkeys pecking and gobbling at a USPS truck while ignoring law enforcement and passersby.
The Human-Wildlife Contact team then got permission to conduct an operation: kill up to four of the birds. But the wily birds escaped wildlife personnel.
Two “capture operations in late October and early December were unsuccessful as the birds ran away from staff,” the report said.
So far, no turkeys have been captured or killed.
The demand to fund significant salary increases for strikers comes as the state faces a potential $25-billion budget deficit.
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