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Christopher Gabriel, Published November 09 2009

Gabriel: Believe me, don’t trust turkeys this time of year

With hunting season upon us and Thanksgiving around the corner, I was thinking about where those two intersect. Last year, it was on a suburban Minneapolis highway.

Sailing along at about 60 mph, traffic suddenly came to a halt. The reason for the hold-up wasn’t an accident, and it wasn’t road construction. It was turkeys.

Two enormous birds looking as though they were spawned from a master race of Super Turkeys were strolling along the side of the road glaring at cars. It was both surreal and a bit eerie. Eerie, because it was similar to an incident that took place in New Jersey around the same time.

In Monmouth County, not far from the Atlantic Ocean and just south of New York City, shortly after 3 p.m. on a Monday afternoon, Lisa Lane drove to her home after picking up her daughter from middle school. Also in the vehicle was Bubbles, the Lanes’ 1-year-old West Highland white terrier.

And lurking near the house was a flock of approximately 20 turkeys trying to look inconspicuous while munching on crab apples.

The turkeys watched the vehicle as it made its way to the driveway. Upon seeing Bubbles, the turkeys went nuts. Clearly, there were some lingering issues from previous encounters with Bubbles that fed the vitriol of the frenzied fowl, as they immediately took flight up and over the house.

One turkey, however, didn’t clear the house. Was it unintentional? You decide.

The crazed turkey proceeded to rip through two glass panes and a screen in son Jake’s second-story bedroom. Tony McBride, a biologist who heads New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection’s Wild Turkey Research Project, said a turkey getting into a house or flying through a window happens every few years in New Jersey, where there are an estimated 22,000 to 23,000 of the birds.

Shortly after impact, Lisa used her cell phone to call the state police and her husband, Jeff, who was at work. Jeff, in turn, called neighbor Albert Del Cristo. Del Cristo, obviously experienced in conflict resolution and highly skilled in sizing up a crisis, showed up minutes later wearing camouflage battle gear while carrying a baseball bat. One imagines the Navy Seals and Special Forces were also placed on alert.

New Jersey state troopers then arrived with Mary Klink, who provides animal control services in Monmouth County.

After creating a plan, Trooper Richard Pogorzelski, Mary, Mary’s husband and Del Cristo entered the home and headed up to Jake’s bedroom.

After entering the room, Lisa told reporters “The bird had relieved himself all over. … The room was a disaster. Feathers were all over. He (Jake) just saved up for this Abercrombie (& Fitch) sweatshirt, and the turkey pooped on it.”

A frenzied, flying, pooping turkey with Thanksgiving around the corner. Coincidence?

And this turkey was no dummy. It turns out he was nowhere to be found. Get in, wreak havoc and get out. They’re all that way, aren’t they?

So what of these incidents? Turkeys arrogantly strolling alongside a highway; a turkey on a suicide run through a second floor window? Is the suggestion of a master race of turkeys, pure nonsense, or might the combination of these incidents foretell a coming war with the turkeys?

The next time you see a turkey wandering aimlessly on a road or in your backyard munching on a snack, ask yourself: Is he really lost?


Christopher Gabriel is host of “The Christopher Gabriel Program” from 9 a.m. to noon weekdays on AM 970 WDAY.

Read his blog at http://cgabriel.com and preview his show at www.areavoices.com/cgabriel