A turkey settled near her Minnesota home. Now she carries weapons.

As Rachael Gross climbed the steps of her Coon Rapids, Minn., home in the summer of 2021, a turkey dropped from her roof and forced her to the ground. The turkey ripped her jacket, Gross said, and scattered her bags of eggs, coffee and other groceries across her front lawn.

That evening, Gross began asking the state's wildlife authorities to relocate the wild turkey. So far, they've declined to do so. Instead, the turkey has made itself a home on Gross's lawn.

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Gross, 41, said the turkey has placed her and her neighbors' lives in turmoil. She now wears safety goggles when she steps outside and carries a broom, a golf club and a water bottle for self-defense.

"I'm pretty stressed out and pretty anxious all the time," Gross told The Washington Post. "I can't even have peace."

The turkey appeared at her mobile home park with seven others in the summer of 2021, Gross said. When the pack departed a few weeks later, it remained. The turkey became attached to Gross, following her on drives to Chipotle and to her work at a nearby nursing home, where Gross is a caregiver.

"It's here 24/7," Gross said. "It thinks I'm his mom or something."

After the turkey fell on her in 2021, neighbors began carrying golf clubs. Gross said she called emergency services and Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources. Experts advised her to remove bird feeders across the neighborhood because the turkey would flee without a food supply.

But Gross said she sees corn strewn around the mobile home park, leading her to believe someone is feeding the turkey. Soon after the first attack, Gross said, the turkey pecked at her feet and left a scar. Around that same time, the turkey attacked another resident. Since the turkey settled near her home, Gross said neighbors blamed her for it entering their neighborhood.

Gross said the turkey sleeps on her roof or on a tree outside her home. She said the turkey gobbles throughout the night, and when she opens the blinds on her kitchen window in the morning, the turkey glares at her. Gross at first named the turkey Gladys, but as it grew, she came to believe it was male and changed its name to Reggie, though she hasn't confirmed either the turkey's gender or age.

Gross said she has applied every precaution from wildlife experts. She doesn't keep any food outside of her home, and doesn't play loud music out of fear it'd attract the turkey. She hasn't grilled outside in nearly two years. She bought a horn to scare the turkey, but it just provoked the bird. Gross sprayed water on it, but that only scared the turkey for two weeks.

In October 2021, the neighborhood canceled Halloween trick-or-treating because of the turkey, Gross said. Since its arrival, she has personally walked neighborhood children to the bus stop to protect them from it. Now, the kids use sticks and backpacks for self-defense, she said.

Gross said the turkey also nips at her car's tires, forcing her to fill them with air weekly. When her family members visit for holidays, Gross said they're scared to approach her house.

"I'm so exhausted," she said. "I hope this gets a solution and somebody comes to help, so I don't have to deal with this anymore. And so that we can all have a peaceful summer with our kids and our grandkids and actually have a barbecue and just relax."

Relocating the turkey is not so simple, said Scott Noland, a wildlife manager for the Department of Natural Resources. When a turkey is rounded up after wounding people, the DNR often facilitates serving it as food to someone in need, Noland said.

"Removing the bird is kind of the last resort," Noland told The Post. "We don't want to do it right away in situations like this."

Capt. Adam Jacobson said the Coon Rapids Police Department refers residents to the DNR for guidance on handling wildlife.

Wild turkey attacks are not uncommon. A turkey ambushed people five times across D.C. trails last summer before disappearing. Gross's friends have suggested shooting the turkey, but Gross doesn't want to harm it. Still, she feels her pleas for relocation have gone unanswered.

When she exited her house Tuesday morning, she said she jumped after a bird flew by - scared it would be the turkey. When she watches turkey flocks cross her home, she hopes Reggie will join them.

Instead, Gross peeked through her blinds Tuesday night to witness him still in her driveway.

"He's out there pecking at my tires," Gross said. "Ugh, I'm going to have to put air in my tires again tomorrow morning."


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Video: Rachel Gross tried to fend off her nosy neighbor, a wild turkey, outside her home in Coon Rapids, Minn., on Jan. 25.(The Washington Post)

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