May 9, 2013 in City

Clark: Gutsy gang of gobblers gets his goat

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Doug Clark photo

Wild turkeys are trying to evict Doug Clark. They keep showing up and act unafraid.
(Full-size photo)

Of course I knew Spokane had a gang problem.

But you never take things like that seriously until the birdbrains show up at your doorstep.

They arrived again Tuesday morning, flashing secret signs and showing complete disdain for my rights as a property owner.

Worst of all, I’m fairly certain the cops would laugh at me if I dialed 911 and tried to get them to come arrest these turkey trespassers.

Weird though it might seem, the Clark homestead on the South Hill has become a magnet lately for a dozen or so of these big brawny birds, who strut through the yard like they pay the taxes.

First I thought the visits were cute.

I love turkeys, after all, especially with French bread and cranberry sauce.

Then I started noticing these oily dark piles the intruders were depositing in my grass.

Foul.

I blame Disney for warping our minds about the critters of the fields and skies.

See, we “ooh” and “ahh” while watching those classic animated movies, never once pausing to consider that if Bambi, say, was real, he’d be chewing up the garden and pooping all over the driveway.

By Tuesday night the Butterball Brigade had migrated into the limbs of backyard trees. Not that I could see them. But every few minutes the things would unite in this unholy “gobbledy-gobble” racket.

“A giblet jihad,” I told a friend.

Wednesday morning I called Madonna Luers to talk turkey.

Luers is a longtime friend and public information officer with Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The woman knows more about turkeys than the bloody pilgrims ever did.

We’re in the midst of turkey breeding season, she told me. This time of year, the birds get all sexed up, which causes their naked tom noggins to get all engorged and red.

Uh, that’s actually a lot less vulgar than it sounds.

Turkey hunting season is going on, too, which could explain why so many of them are on the lam in my neighborhood.

But don’t get any silly ideas. The city has rules against hunting, and for all the obvious reasons.

But why must these beasts be so brash and boisterous?

“If you were that big compared to everything else you would be, too,” Luers said. Turkeys “have huge feet with spurs. They could do some damage to a dog.”

She then went on to regale me with the following positively shocking turkey tales:

SHOCKER 1 – The turkey population has become so large in northeastern Washington that power lines have been known to snap under the weight of too many wire-resting gobblers.

SHOCKER 2 – A wildlife biologist recently reported large numbers of turkeys sauntering down the main drag of Dayton, Wash.

(Insert Dayton City Council joke here.)

SHOCKER 3 – Luers said she was driving to work about 10 years ago when a sight straight out of a Hitchcock flick stopped her cold.

A little girl who was waiting for a bus ride to school was battling a flock of wild turkeys that had her surrounded.

“They were eye to eye with her,” Luers said. “She was kicking at them and flinging her little lunch pail.

“These birds, they’re bold.”

My friend saved the day by laying on the horn and slowly driving into the mob, which sent the feathered thugs scuttling away.

“We’ve had nuisance wild turkey situations for a long time,” Luers added. Sometimes they’ll fly across the road and “smack into your windshield.”

You’d never have enough wiper fluid to take care of that mess.

Like the North Idaho Democrat, the wild turkey is not native to Washington.

The birds were actually imported here decades ago thanks to the hunting-minded National Turkey Federation. Over the years, the population slowly grew and grew to the point where they started wandering into the Clark yard.

All I can say is, thank God there isn’t a National Piranha Federation.

Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 ordougc@spokesman.com.


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