Turkey Caught In Red Tape

Village officials have been working with the state Department of Natural Resources since May to find a suitable place to relocate the “Lake Bluff turkey,” but wide-reaching publicity and strong affection for the wild bird have hobbled all of the plans to date.

“This bird was a topic of humor, but that’s long since gone away,” Lake Bluff Police Chief William Gallagher said at Monday night’s Village Board of Trustees meeting.

(Mid-story footnote: GazeboNews broke the turkey story on May 9; click here to read it. Soon after that story ran, the Chicago Tribune was on the case, followed by the Pioneer Press and just about every Chicago TV station. The bird also has its own Facebook page, Flickr slideshow and YouTube videos.)

“What has occurred is that everyone is overly cautious about what needs to be done,” said Chief Gallagher, who considers the bird a serious traffic hazard.

Chief Gallagher said that when police first reported the wild turkey to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the officers were told to euthanize the bird.

“We said that’s not going to be the greatest idea,” the Chief reported. “There are too many folks who are fond of it. So DNR said they needed to do research to find out what we can do with it. They came back and said, ‘If you have a location, have them come and get it.’ ”

A spokeswoman for the state DNR told GazeboNews that her agency issued a permit to Lake Bluff on June 2, allowing an employee of the Village to remove or euthanize the turkey.

Lake Bluff police conferred with local wildlife centers and farms, including Elawa Farm in Lake Forest. Chief Gallagher said the farmers initially were warm to the idea of housing the turkey, but that they balked after realizing the amount of paper work they would need to fill out and licenses they would need to obtain.

Then Lambs Farm got involved. Lots of people thought this was a great idea, seeing as the property is due west on busy Route 176, a road that the turkey seems to really like.

“But the DNR was concerned about problems (since Lambs is not public land), so they kicked it to Springfield. Springfield said the turkey has to be captured and turned over to DNR who will release it on state property,” said the police chief.

Lake Bluff was ready to move. It contacted a firm called ABC Wildlife, which makes a living relocating wild animals. But like the farmers, the company got cold feet when it learned about the publicity and red tape surrounding the bird.

Other questions surfaced and were debated: is the turkey really wild? Should the turkey be trapped or given an anesthetic? If the latter, how much?

It doesn’t look like the issue of what to with Jeff will be resolved in the immediate future. Chief Gallagher told the board that on Tuesday, July 27, the state DNR will set down a permit to relocate the animal. “But they’re still not comfortable so they’re trying to make sure they have clearance with federal authorities,” he added.

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