Tough turkey arrested and relocated after attacking wildlife officer
This time last year, Nathan Cass met a tough turkey that thought it could bully the neighborhood without interference from Johnny Law.
But like every other troublemaker in the state, the bird-turned-attacker was detained and put behind bars.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources wildlife officer said Ohioans might start to see similar outlaws in their own lawns as the days get longer and warmer.
"It's a behavior that's caused by people putting out bird seed and whatnot," Cass said. "Those birds are just habituated to being around people."
'He took off running right toward my truck'
The Crawford County wildlife officer encountered the March madness last year near Fremont after helping patrol the walleye run in the Sandusky and Maumee rivers.
Cass recalled that there had been "complaints of some aggressive turkeys running around... chasing vehicles and going after kids as they were waiting for the school bus," so he kept an eye out for the bandit birds as he drove through Sandusky County.
Outside of Fremont, he noticed a male turkey with a flock of hens.
"He was in full strut," Cass said. "They were over by a bird feeder in someone's front yard."
The wildlife officer stopped to see how the birds would react, and it only took a few seconds for him to get an answer.
"He took off running right toward my truck," Cass said. "Next thing I know, he's starting to peck at it."
Tough turkey relocated 10 miles out of town
The officer wanted to protect his truck, but he also knew he could be scratched during the encounter.
"He starts jumping and flapping his wings, kind of trying to spur me with his spurs on his legs," Cass said. "It kind of took me for a surprise."
As the bird continued his attack, the officer realized the fowl behavior warranted an arrest.
"I go to the the back of my truck and got one of my fishing nets out," Cass said. "I was able to get that over the turkey, which kind of trapped it down on the ground, and then I was able to get my animal carrier crate out and was able to load him up in that."
Once the turkey was caged and in the truck, he drove it about 10 miles outside of Fremont to a woods.
"When I opened the crate, obviously I didn't know if he was still going to be mad at me or what he was going to do," Cass said. "But I opened the crate and he wanted nothing to do with me at that point. He took off flying."
'Geese kind of do the same thing'
The bird's aggressive behavior is not normal for a wild turkey, but it's also not unheard of, either.
"I guess fairly common in urban areas where people have bird feeders out," Cass said. "Like any wild animal, they can get habituated to people and kind of lose the fear of people, and then that's when you kind of have these human-wildlife interactions that don't always go so well."
Every spring, there will be at least one report from somewhere in the Buckeye State where an animal has attacked a house or a vehicle.
"Geese kind of do the same thing when they have nests," Cass said. "They kind of get aggressive and kind of flap their wings and fly up at you."
Most of the time, though, it's all for show.
"Typically, they're not going to hurt you," Cass said.
'Stop putting bird feed out'
If someone does find themselves scuffling with a wild turkey, their best course of action will be to avoid being scratched by the spurs on the bird's feet.
"Most of the time when people do get injured by these larger birds like that, it's because they trip and fall as they're trying to run away," Cass said.
The wildlife officer suggests the humans back away if they are attacked by a turkey.
"Try not to panic and just kind of give the the turkey some distance," Cass said.
If anyone is hurt, or the turkeys are habitually aggressive, residents can call an ODNR officer at 1-800-WILDLIFE.
Usually, the birds are only in the area for an easy meal.
"Stop putting bird feed out for a little bit and let that turkey kind of go on its way," Cass said. "If you're continuously putting that food source out there, they will come back."
This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Tough turkey arrested and relocated after attacking wildlife officer