RIP Fred, a friendly bird - and a real turkey

  • Article by: JIM ADAMS
  • Updated: October 26, 2007 - 7:55 PM

A neighbor many knew well met a sad end in Maple Grove.

Fred is dead.

That's the word from Maple Grove where Fred the turkey delighted some but became a hazard when traffic slowed as people watched him strut around the intersection of Zachary Lane and 86th Avenue N.

"He's history," said businessman Gary Mitsch. He had enjoyed watching Fred peck at trucks and chase geese away.

"He'd eat right out of your hand. He loved sunflower seeds," said Mitsch, who has a heating and plumbing business near the intersection. "He was not bothering anybody. He was no different than all the wild geese wandering around the street."

The fowl deed was done last Friday by a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officer after Maple Grove police were unable to trap or snare the wily, quick-footed Fred.

"Unfortunately he is no longer with us," said DNR field officer Todd Kanieski. He said he shot Fred near Zachary and 89th Avenue and the bird died instantly. He said the carcass was left in a wooded area for coyotes to munch on. He noted that a DNR officer shot another turkey the day before that had been a problem in Brooklyn Park.

Wild turkeys are killed as a last resort, which often happens after people have fed them and they lose their natural fear of humans and begin chasing people and vehicles, Kanieski said.

"Turkeys have been around for years and years and they do fine without people feeding them," he said. "As soon as people start feeding them, there is no way you can shoo them away. ... If you see a turkey, refrain from feeding it, or at least not by hand."

Fred's demise occurred the same day his fame spread beyond Maple Grove as his picture appeared with a Star Tribune story on encroaching suburban wildlife.

Mitsch's neighbor, Mike Dyer, said he was disappointed at Fred's departure, but understood why he was removed. "He generated a heck of a lot of calls," Dyer said.

Dyer and Mitsch traded Fred tales and pictures all summer, Mitsch said.

"Mike and I had a lot of fun with that turkey," Mitsch said. "It takes some boredom out of life when he'd chase the UPS trucks and the mail lady would shoosh him away. He's history, but he was a lot of fun."

Jim Adams • 612-673-7658

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