The infamous angry wild turkey near Fort George has been killed.
Parks Canada released the following statement regarding the turkey on Saturday: “Public safety and the safety of visitors is a top priority for Parks Canada. On September 28, Parks Canada, with the assistance of Niagara Parks Commission Police and the Niagara Regional Police, removed a wild turkey that was involved in multiple incidents in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region, displaying bold behaviours towards people … This action was taken after serious consideration. It was not an easy decision for Parks Canada staff, but in the end, it was a necessary action to ensure visitor and public safety in the vicinity of Fort George National Historic Site. Parks Canada reviewed all options and relocating the turkey was determined not to be a feasible option.”
We can do the Monty Python dead bird sketch and laugh for hours; We can make Thanksgiving jokes all the way to Oct. 8; but something we shouldn’t do is accuse the authorities of being gunhappy killers of innocent wildlife. Instead, we give thanks for the return of our public safety. Replace the word “turkey” with the word “animal.”
A wild animal was behaving erratically and dangerously, attacking vulnerable people and vehicles without any provocation. Several people were injured as a result of this animal’s actions. Residents were avoiding certain areas of town for fear of being hurt by the animal. The animal was not responding normally to the suggestions made by trained professionals from such reputable organizations as the Ministry of Natural Resources, which advised “ignore it and it will leave you alone. If it does approach menacingly, try scaring it by making yourself as large and as loud as possible.”
Gus Calderone ignored the animal and it approached him anyway on the recreational path on John Street near the Niagara River Parkway. The animal — unprovoked — ultimately flung itself at Calderone’s back, shocking him. He turned to it and roared, lifting his arms in the air. The animal was unmoved.
Calderon was forced to kick it hard enough to send it eight feet away, and make his escape. People driving by took pictures of the event — as they have done in many reports of these attacks.
No one called for help, because the perception of this particular animal is that it is inherently hilarious. “The animal” was about four feet tall, had a wingspan of approximately five feet, and had a dangerous beak and razor-sharp talons with which he drew blood from innocent people more than once.
The three groups responsible for the safety of the people on this animal’s chosen turf are Parks Canada, the NPC and the NRP, and neither of these organizations ever found this wild animal amusing.
They respected it, studied it thoroughly, and ultimately acknowledged it for the threat it was — and then spent a great deal of concerted effort determining every possible eventuality. In the many conversations the Lake Report had with the various entities involved, each representative was very respectful of the animal and its breed. The very mandates of Parks Canada and the Niagara Parks Commission include supporting and protecting wild animals — unless they are a threat to human safety.
The death of any living being is a sad thing. But relocation was not an option for this animal, which was clearly abnormal. Moving a danger doesn’t eliminate that danger, it only puts other people or animals at risk.
The agencies involved spent several days observing the situation, confirming there was only one aggressive animal of this breed, and planning for the safest possible outcome.
Here is more from the Parks Canada statement: “Trained Parks Canada resource conservation professionals from the Southwestern Ontario Field Unit assisted local staff with the removal. The operation was coordinated with the Niagara Parks Commission Police and the Niagara Regional Police, who provided traffic control along Queens Parade, which was closed from the Fort George National Historic Site parking to John Street for approximately 10 minutes.”
Interestingly, the likely reason it took from early incidents in May until the end of September to resolve the situation seems to be the inherent comedy behind this wild animal. Had people been attacked repeatedly by a fox or a hawk — or a human — there wouldn’t have been shame and humour, there would have been immediate uproar and action. Victims would have called the proper authorities immediately.