FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Over the weekend, multiple residents of the Bohde Grove neighborhood in northeast Fort Wayne contacted WANE 15 about a wild turkey that they believed was abducted.
A video in the Ring Doorbell neighbors app showed multiple people gathering around a wild turkey and then taking it away in a car.
Many people referred to the turkey by the name they gave it: Tom.
Our newsroom began wondering how a wild turkey gets a nickname from locals.
We went to the neighborhood off Maplecrest Road to speak with Claire Smith.
The Mengerson Nature Preserve is near the Bohde Grove neighborhood.
Smith said that she was kind of baffled by how many turkeys and other wildlife were in the neighborhood when she first moved in a few years ago but grew to enjoy having the animals around in a city neighborhood, especially ‘Tom the Turkey.’
“We just got a kick out of him,” Smith said.
She said Tom would often roam around the neighborhood. He would even come up and peck at people’s feet and, sometimes, heckle a delivery driver. Smith said Tom would also wander off onto Maplecrest Road from time to time and slow down traffic.
Below is a video sent to WANE 15 a few weeks ago of a wild turkey walking on Maplecrest Road. Smith says this is Tom in the video.
When a video surfaced of Tom being scooped up and taken away, Smith and other residents reached out the the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
According to Smith, a DNR official told her the turkey was picked up by a local wildlife rehabilitation center and relocated to an area with wild turkeys after someone called them about the turkey roaming around.
To relocate a wild bird like that, a permit is required. The laws are outlined by the Purdue Extension office here.
Smith said they don’t know if Tom was just moved to the Mengerson Nature Preserve or elsewhere. They don’t know if they’ll ever see him around the neighborhood again.
“We dearly miss him already. There’s a lot of people in the neighborhood that have just been concerned the other turkeys may go missing as well, and we would appreciate if our community and the surrounding area do leave them be so that we can have more generations of turkeys be raised and continue their amazing little wildlife,” she explained.
Their hope from many is that no other turkeys are removed from the area. Smith acknowledged why they are fascinated with the turkeys and enjoy having them roaming their neighborhood.
“Living so close to a nature preserve, you’re going to have wild animals, birds that you really don’t see in an inner city that are quite amazing,” Smith said. “It’s an experience that you don’t get unless you live in a rural area. So, the fact that we do have a nature preserve that is just west of our neighborhood, I believe a lot of the residents in our neighborhood have really taken to the fact that we are privileged to have wildlife so close to us.”