A beloved and rebellious member of a Wisconsin community has died, Kenosha police announced in a Facebook post.
“Sadly, ‘Carl’ the turkey was struck by a vehicle earlier today and has died. Carl will be missed by many,” the Kenosha Police Department said on Dec. 7.
But Carl was more than just a turkey to many in the Forest Park neighborhood in Kenosha.
The turkey was an “unofficial mascot” to the city, and was dubbed “Kenoshian of the Week” in September. He inspired several Carl-themed merchandise items, including t-shirts and stickers by local businesses.
In fact, Carl racked up over 6,000 members in a Facebook group dedicated to him since its start on Sept. 6.
Almost daily, photos of Carl filled the group’s timeline, along with sighting stories. Around Thanksgiving, supplies were gathered to make paper, foam and even chocolate Carl’s in his honor.
Carl notably got into conflicts with law enforcement during his time in the spotlight, due to his disregard for traffic laws. He would often strut out to the middle of streets and “harass” cars by pecking at their wheels.
Kenosha police posted a particularly tense moment between the outlaw bird and an officer when he was confronted with his scalawag ways. Even once confronted with the badge, the turkey persisted and continued walking in the road as he pleased. Of course, police bent to his will.
Although he certainly could get his way, Carl was described as a gentle bird with a tough exterior who would never attack a bystander. Instead, Carl would simply run away when a wanderer got too close.
“I have never seen a turkey in Kenosha just walking around casually,” a resident told Kenosha.com. “It’s been such a crazy time and some people think it’s a spiritual sign. It’s weird but good. I think seeing how a turkey can fit in a city as well as it does is actually pretty cool.”
At the height of his celebrity status, Carl was profiled by The Guardian in November, just weeks before his tragic accident.
“He makes everyone smile, even though he gets into traffic and disrupts and holds things up,” Hawkins said. “I think it is pretty amazing how this turkey has been able to be the one thing that we can all get behind and smile and laugh.”
Then tragedy struck.
Carl fans reacted to his death.
“Last night (Monday) as I was on my way south on Pershing ... I thought about Carl,” one commenter recalled. “I kept an eye out for him thinking ‘I’d better not be the guy who hits him tonight.’ ... RIP Carl, you made it past Thanksgiving!”
“He loved shiny objects and cheap booze (Wild Turkey). Ultimately, his loves would be the cause of his untimely death,” a Facebook group member said.
“He was our Phoenix… literally helping Kenosha rise from the ashes,” another Carl lover declared, while also noting “yes I have two turkeys in my freezer right now.”
A local musician, Keith Pauley, created a song in honor of Carl in October.
“In the city of Kenosha there’s an outlaw running loose, in the streets and on the sidewalks, in the trees where he may roost,” he sang. “He’s a champion of the people and an enemy of the law.”