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Take my turkey … PLEASE!

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, February 22nd, 2007 at 9:25 am in Uncategorized.

Turkey Wars
Times’ staff writer Denis Cuff’s story on the front page of last Saturday’s Times (Feb. 17) about shooting wild turkeys in the Rossmoor retirement community in Walnut Creek is still causing ripples. Hum, better make that “waves.” I got a phone call yesterday from someone who played a VERY LOUD recording of a turkey gobbling in my ear. I can still hear it. Kind of inspiring, if you know what I mean.

A day hasn’t passed since then without my getting more phone calls, e-mail messages, and letters from people who are angry about this turkey killing. Why do we always kill things that annoy us? (Don’t even try to answer that.)

My daily newspaper column space doesn’t have enough room to print all these e-mails and letters, so I’ve decided to print some of them here in my blog, which has plenty of room.

Do the letters below stimulate a few thoughts of your own? You can add your own comments by clicking on “Comments” at the end today’s entry.

I’ll be interested to hear what you think about all this. /Gary

GARY: Our Rossmoor administration has hired a sharp-shooter with a silenced .22 rifle to thin the wild turkey population. If there are people like you who admire the birds, please call Rossmoor so that an adoption plan can be set up, or just drive up with a covered pickup truck full of feed. You will have a truck full of gobblers in no time.

Unlike deer that jump in front of cars, I have yet to see a dead turkey in the road, being that the speed limit is 25 and the birds move slowly as do our senior residents. After dark the turkeys roost in the trees while the deer still prance around at all hours. As far as destroying the Rossmoor maintained landscape, the deer eat everything that they can reach while the turkeys just peck at the ground.

One complaint is that elderly people can slip on their droppings. The turkey flock is always in slow but constant motion. The food that they eat is not on the sidewalks so that the droppings on the walkways are minimal. They cross the walkways and streets, like the proverbial chicken, “to get to the other side.” They can be noisy but no more than the Canada geese that flock here or the complaining seniors who live here.

It may disturb your sense of animal justice, but dogs and cats in Rossmoor cannot roam free. If they can’t tolerate a leash, they must remain indoors. Because of that rule we have ground nesting birds like quail. Residents in the Eagle Ridge area keep their cats indoors to prevent them from becoming a coyote’s dinner. Birds of prey like owls and red-tailed hawks also reside there.

Rossmoor, with the exception of its minority of complaining seniors is a wild animal park in the suburbs. I do love and admire all our natural friends that surround us here that make Rossmoor a special place to spend our golden years. I hope that some of our wild turkeys can be relocated rather than shot. And I hope the gunned down gobblers can be given to the Contra Costa Food Bank. (Bob Butkus, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek)

GARY: “Rossmoor to kill turkeys.” Oh boy, I was furious to hear this! I have so enjoyed the return of the turkeys to this area. Granted, there are a lot of them, with the population growing in leaps and bounds, but we live in an area surrounded by open space and need to learn to accept the good with what some see as the bad.

I can understand the problem with turkey poop on sidewalks, I’ve stepped over it many times myself, but that gives humans the right to kill another living thing? No! What about all the dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs when they poop; do we shoot the owner? The dog? I’d much rather deal with turkey poop than all the dog poop left lying around in this area (Rudgear Road).

Can’t these birds be moved to higher ground? My God, I can’t believe that rather than deal with nature, humans will kill. It disgusts me.

I have seen cars pull over and stop to watch the turkeys and yes, I’ve seen them have to stop and wait for turkeys to cross the road … so what? I saw a U.S. Postal Service truck aim at them and speed up, literally.

Why have we become so self important that “lesser” living creatures have no right to live? Why are we in such a hurry that we can’t stop and wait for another living creature to cross a road without some becoming so angry we start honking and screaming?

Why, why are we allowed to kill something because it poops on the sidewalk? (Lauran, Walnut Creek)

GARY: The news in Saturday’s paper was really appalling to me. Reading about all the shootings in Rossmoor trying to kill the wild turkeys. They even had to hire someone to do this and use a silencer so that the people would not hear the shooting. What a crying shame! These wild turkeys are so wonderful with their tranquil sounds. Can’t these people enjoy life and put up with a little debris? What is next? Killing all the crows that make noise or all the cats that are roaming around?! These Rossmoor people should be ashamed of their doings. (Aimee Ann Vickers, Pleasanton)

GARY: Our neighborhood is still grieving over the loss of our beloved George the Turkey (hit by a car) while across town in Rossmoor they are being killed by a hired gun. It is reported that the population of turkeys is growing to an unmanageable number in Rossmoor thereby causing a nuisance to the residents.

George was also a nuisance, but a much loved one! He caused me to be late to work a number of times because he would perch himself on the top of our Explorer and wouldn’t budge. My husband had to clean up turkey poop on our cars and in our yard everyday but figured that was the least we could do in exchange for all the enjoyment George brought to us.

Surprisingly, turkeys are indeed capable of living near humans and the sight of a large tom strutting and calling during the spring courtship is a spectacular sight that many people who are fortunate enough to have witnessed often recite and share and fondly remember. But to have to shoot them?

I can’t help but think there must be a better way. Studies reveal that every species of wildlife has a fascinating story and these stories put our lives into perspective. Hopefully the citizens of Rossmoor, along with the rest of our community, will take the time to understand and be tolerant of the natural world around us and be inspired to protect and appreciate whatever is still wild and under their care. (Rita Bradt, Walnut Creek)

A final thought:

“I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; like those among men who live by sharking and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. The turkey is a much more respectable.”
— Benjamin Franklin, statesman, scientist, philosopher, inventor (1706-1790)

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5 Responses to “Take my turkey … PLEASE!”

  1. Mike "troll" Dame Says:

    i hope the Rossmoor sniper is a good shot wouldnt want him to miss a turkey and hit some old buzzard by mistake.

    are the turkeys they shoot going to feed anyone or is it just senseless slaughter?

  2. Gary Says:

    Mike Dame:
    state Fish and Game says federal food safety regulators
    will not allow turkeys (or wild pigs, etc.) taken under depredation permits to be donated to
    homeless shelters or other charities. /Gary

  3. Bill Matthey Says:

    Dear Gary ~

    My father lived in Rossmore for many years, he was, in his younger days, a hunter and fisher. During visits I saw deer, quail, and turkeys, and always thought, what a nice place. Obviously some species of wildlife also think Rossmore is a nice place.
    I now live in Oregon and guess what, there are deer, quail and turkeys here, too! At times they walk the streets and are, for the most part, enjoyed by not only the locals but visitors from other places.

    It would, in my humble opinion, show a great deal about our species if we could allow other species to live in harmony in areas and spaces we have created. After all, deer, quail AND turkeys don’t eat all that much and poop even less. ~Bill

  4. Rita Bradt Says:

    The killing of turkeys in Rossmoor is barbaric, totally senseless and deeply disturbing. Rossmoor definitely needs a wake-up call! When I called Rossmoor Administration, I was told that the person in charge of the “turkey elimination” is Paul Donner, the Director of Mutual Operations. His phone number is 925-988-7643.

    If enough people call and voice their concerns, perhaps Rossmoor will review their decision and find a more humane solution.

    I urge everyone to call Mr. Donner and voice their objections to this senseless killing of turkeys!

  5. Orley Morgan Says:

    I used to live in Rossmoor.
    I am so glad i moved to another state.I would not be able to live in a community that shoots poor innocent animals.
    They have just as much right to be there as the
    people. I find it hard to believe the fish and game allow this senseless slaughter of turkeys. Can something be done?

    Orley Morgan

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