Wild turkey seen walking in traffic in Scarborough relocated

A large wild turkey roaming streets and private properties in northwest Scarborough has been captured and relocated to a forested area nearby, says the Toronto Wildlife Centre.

Earlier this week, Toronto police issued a warning after the big bird was seen walking on the road near Warden Avenue and Highway 401. Police urged drivers to be cautious.

The gobbler had reportedly been lurking in that area for about two months, but had managed to avoid capture, Nathalie Karvonen, TWC’s executive director, told CP24.com on Wednesday afternoon.

Karvonen said that TWC, a registered charity that assists sick, injured, orphaned, and distressed wildlife as well as educates the public about wildlife issues, received a number of calls about the animal and had been monitoring the situation.

Those calls started to pick up in the last couple of weeks and the police had even contacted them about the situation, she said.

“Normally, we wouldn’t be responding to an animal that wasn’t injured, but it seemed that over time the turkey’s behaviour escalated,” Karvonen said, adding that with the colder weather setting in the animal’s natural food sources became scarce and it likely started relying more and more on the food it was getting from humans.

“Some people were actually throwing the bird food from the car. … It’s not the fault of the turkey that it started associating cars with food. The turkey became a hazard to itself and the public.”

Wild turkey seen walking in traffic in Scarborough relocated

Late Tuesday afternoon, Andrew Wight, TWC’s rescue team leader, managed to capture the turkey using a net and covering the bird with a sheet to keep it calm.

Taken to the Toronto Wildlife Centre in North York to be checked out, it was found to be in good physical condition, Karvonen said, adding the decision was then made to relocate the bird to a safer and more appropriate location nearby.

“We moved it to an area where there’s known to be other wild turkeys…We didn’t move the bird too far away,” she said.

Karvonen went on to say that it’s an ongoing challenge to find the right balance between human beings and wildlife in urban areas.

“There’s dangers everywhere for wild animals in the city. … It’s basically a perfect storm,” she said, adding it is also hard for organizations like TWC, which is the busiest one of its kind in the country, to keep up with the demand without government support for the work they do.

“If that turkey had been hit by a car, we’d be contacted to perform surgery.”

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