Carl the Kenosha Turkey, the most famous poultry in the Forest Park district, has once again become a centerpiece.
And we’re not talking about the middle of the Thanksgiving dinner table.
The bird has been at the center of discussions for the past few months as neighbors seek to live in harmony with it and its flock, while onlookers and motorists, locals and others, navigate, dodge and even try to bond. friendship with him in the middle of Pershing Boulevard.
Wildlife rehabbers, residents clash
It all came to a head, however, when Forest Park residents and representatives of a wildlife rehabilitation group clashed Monday night as Fellows Mortals volunteers attempted to capture Carl after dark. , in order to take him to a safe place.
According to Kenosha Police, the Lake Geneva-based nonprofit, which has a wildlife hospital and a wild bird sanctuary program, has received calls from some residents concerned about the turkey’s safety. .
Sgt. Leo Viola, spokesperson for the Kenosha Police Department, said on Tuesday that a representative from Fellows Mortals had been in contact with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regarding the possible outcomes that could result if the wild turkey stayed.
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“What they had decided in response to this complaint was that they were going to try to remove the turkey and put it to safety in a wildlife sanctuary where it would be safe,” Viola said. “They did it for the benefit of the turkey, but obviously after seeing the backlash they received from the citizens of Pershing and the surrounding area (Boulevard), they gave up on this idea.”
Turkey, public security concerns
Carl was still free, wandering the streets of Kenosha – at least since Tuesday night – but some remained concerned for his safety and that of the public.
Yvonne Wallace Blane, director and co-founder of Fellow Mortals Wildlife Hospital, said they had known Carl for some time and had received several calls from people concerned about the situation.
The Walworth County nonprofit Wildlife Center helps rehabilitate animals and is the only one in the tri-county area of Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties, she said.
“We don’t usually get involved in those situations, but people just kept calling and calling,” Wallace Blane said.
After receiving several calls and hearing about the turkey sleeping on the road, trained volunteers intervened to try to capture it. Upon arrival, the volunteers began to receive aggressive comments from locals, Wallace Blane said. They actually called the police to report it, she said.
Carl escapes future kidnappers
After the police arrived, the volunteers came out with the help of the police to catch him, but eventually Carl fled the area before that happened.
Then came the negative comments on social media and phone calls telling the group to leave Carl alone.
Lisa Hawkins, who administers the Carl the Kenosha Turkey Facebook page, which was set up to honor the beloved bird, said the volunteers who attempted to take her arrived by imposing nets on her, chasing the turkey and disturbing the neighborhood.
“It was a horrible scene as they chased him with nets, entered people’s gardens and (they) were very rude and tough on people who questioned what they were doing,” Hawkins said.
The other mortals later released a statement confirming that they did not have Carl the Kenosha Turkey, despite some conflicting reports that the galloping galliformes had been captured.
“Best wishes to him and we would appreciate any ignorant comments made for no reason to stop. And those of you who slander our name – call elsewhere if you ever need help, ”according to their social media post.
“We have been helping this region free of charge for over 36 years and have saved tens of thousands of lives,” the statement continued. “Continue with the harassment and we’ll say we’re done.”
The wildlife group does not return
Wallace Blane has stated that due to community backlash they are not going to go back and try to capture Carl. But Wallace Blane said she still had concerns.
“People who understand anything about wildlife… know that wild animals shouldn’t approach you this way when they are adults. This tells us that they have become accustomed to humans and that it is going to be dangerous for the animal in the future or could be dangerous for humans.
“Turkeys are herds, they should be herds, not alone,” she said.
“It’s unfortunate for the turkey,” said Jessica Nass, wildlife biologist at Fellow Mortals. “Once he matures he will most likely get aggressive because they are going through a mating season… We have had people who have damage to their cars and so he is in the position that he could be in trouble. and they won’t want him there any more. Where do they go from there? “
Nass is also concerned that Carl will be run over by a car or that someone will end up in an accident trying to avoid him.
“It’s a very dangerous situation, but again, people are finding something to hold on to that just doesn’t make sense,” Nass said. “This turkey, he deserves a better life… People think to themselves and don’t think about the real turkey and the position they put him in.”
Viola said it was evident the wildlife rehabilitators were not “fully aware of the neighborhood’s love for turkeys.”
“They were just responding to a complaint from a citizen and looking to do the best thing for the turkey,” he said.
While the group is done with Carl, police said, frankly, so is the department.
“It’s a wild animal. We will treat it as such, ”Viola said. Viola said the police department is “obviously aware of the strong feelings they have about the turkey.”
“At this point, everyone has taken a hands-off approach,” he said.
Acting Police Chief Eric Larsen said if the turkey’s behavior became a problem, for example chasing and harassing people “where it would pose a danger, I guess we would do something, then”.
“At this point it’s a novelty,” Larsen said from a police perspective. Carl’s fame has neighbors from Forest Park flocking to his side.
“This group takes Carl very seriously,” he said of the thousands of members on social media who support him.
District 15 Ald. Jack Rose, who represents the Forest Park neighborhood, said he had spoken with voters and was also aware that some people had conspiracy theories linking him to those who might want to remove Carl from the neighborhood.
“No. 1, I have nothing to do with the pickup,” Rose said. “With everything going on in Kenosha and beyond, Carl has been a diversion and Carl makes people smile.”
Rose acknowledges that the turkey has slowed traffic on Pershing Boulevard. In fact, the turkey was in the middle of the road again, strutting around Tuesday morning, when Rose was outside.
But he said his position has not changed.
“Just leave Carl alone,” he said.