MONTREAL — In the small Quebec town of St-Prosper-de-Champlain — population 552 — a newly arrived resident has been trotting around like it owns the place.
Mayor France Bedard said its been about 10 days since a wild turkey arrived in the village, about 190 kilometres northeast of Montreal, and it saw fit to settle smack in the heart of town.
And despite some efforts to shoo it out, the turkey has decided to stick around and was still hanging out as of Friday.
“It’s quite the story,” Bedard said with a laugh on Saturday. “Our dear turkey has become a bit of handful — it’s climbing up on car roofs, scratching up paint, and scaring some of the locals.”
The turkey put the central Quebec municipality on the map earlier this month after officials posted a message to Facebook asking residents not to feed the wild bird.
“That’s when everything started — media started showing up to grab images of the wayward turkey,” Bedard said.
The village put out a notice after several complaints from residents and a message from Quebec wildlife officials that they don’t respond to calls for wild turkeys.
Officials suspected someone was feeding the bird, but Bedard noted with harvest in full swing, corn picked from nearby fields falling off delivery trucks provides a steady source of food for the turkey.
Quebec officials have since had a change of heart and told Bedard they’ll send someone to trap the bird after consulting with a biologist.
Wild turkeys were once hunted near extinction, but have become a very common sight in southern Quebec. Authorities have said warmer winters and successful conservation and relocation program have led to a resurgence of sorts.
Bedard, who has lived in town for 34 years, said she’s never seen anything like this as usually, turkeys stick to fields outside village limits.
The bird in question hasn’t been aggressive, but Bedard said she’s concerned about the safety of pedestrians, kids, and drivers. The turkey even caused an unheard of mini traffic jam — provincial police stopped cars for about 15 minutes when the bird refused to get out of the middle of the road.
Some locals tried to capture it, but it was very quick and wildlife officials told them they didn’t have tranquilizers to take down a bird of that size.
“It’s about twenty pounds but it has eyes all about its head, whenever it sees someone coming, it takes off,” Bedard said. “And there was no way we were firing a gun in the middle of the village.”
In any case, Bedard said they don’t wish any harm to the bird — just to have it leave the area.
“At some point, it’s got to leave the middle of town,” Bedard says. “People wake up and it’s on their porch, so it’s a bit unpleasant.”