The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 21, 2012

Wild turkey, a ‘community pet,’ disappears from Carl Junction highway

By Ryan Richardson

— A wild turkey that had become a common sight along Highway 171 near Carl Junction appears to have met its end, and nearby residents are lamenting the loss of bird.

The turkey had become somewhat of a local legend over the past four years. Residents described him as a prize turkey, with an easily identifiable long beard and friendliness that allowed people to feed him.

Penny Smith, owner of Signature Granite, near the entrance to Carl Junction on Highway 171, said she had seen the turkey on her business’ property over the past several years.

“He was always out here, and he was friendly,” Smith said. “He trusted people enough to come right up to him. You knew that you would see that turkey every day. It really upsets me that he’s gone now.”

The turkey might have met its fate at the hands of two hunters on Nov. 9. A nearby resident told the Globe that she saw two men, dressed in camouflage and driving a white truck, nab the turkey from the CAS Steel Inc. parking lot along the highway.

The resident, who asked her name not be used for fear of retaliation, said she confronted the men after she saw them reportedly choking the turkey. She said the pair had claimed to “put the turkey down” after it had wandered into traffic. She said she did not report the incident to authorities.

The resident described the two men as being in their late 20s and that they drove toward Carl Junction after putting the turkey in the bed of their truck.

Carl Junction Police Chief Delmar Haase said  Highway 171 is outside the police department’s jurisdiction.

“We had not had any reports of trespassing or illegal hunting dealing with the turkey,” Haase said. “But it is a bad deal. That turkey hasn’t been a nuisance to anyone and had stayed out of traffic.”

Francis Skalicky, a media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said state turkey season ended on Oct. 31.

News of the turkey’s death has spread throughout Carl Junction over the past week. LaDonna Allen, co-owner of Ozark Hearth and Home, said several people have inquired about the missing fowl recently in her store.

“I kind of expected the worst after we had not seen him recently,” Allen said. “He was like the community pet. Everyone watched out by the road because no one wanted to hit him. He was tame and friendly.”