Neighbors are mourning the death of a wild turkey who roamed the streets around Kettleman Lane and Lower Sacramento Road on Sunday. The bird, known as Tom Kettleman because he was a tom turkey, was apparently struck by traffic.
Remembrances were placed at the spot where the body was found as well as on a favorite corner. Half a dozen candles and a poster were placed in a parking lot near where he roosted.
Sometimes he could be seen using the crosswalk to cross six lanes of traffic. Other times, he jaywalked.
Subway sandwich shop worker Michelle Ellis says the turkey could be seen outside the shop each morning, where people would feed it and give it water.
“Everyone always drove down to take pictures of him and he pout kids smiles on their faces,” said Ellis.
People came by the poster and memorial sporadically throughout the day to pay respects, many of them children with their parents.
Bill Corder started the Friends of Tom Kettleman Facebook page this summer expecting to get a couple of dozen members. By this weekend there were over 3,300 members who posted over a thousand pictures of Tom sightings.
“It would keep people’s minds off the news. He just made people feel good,” said Corder.
Others said death was foreseeable. Steven Vargas holds a sign on Kettleman Lane advertising an insurance company. He was familiar with Tom.
“It’s sad, but I knew it was going to happen because nobody really pays any attention to a wild turkey on the road,” said Vargas.
Others say Tom angered motorists by holding up traffic. There were plenty of people who believed he should have been captured and relocated for his own safety.
But Corder said State Fish and Wildlife said wild birds are off limits as far as human intervention.
“It was always a concern, but we couldn’t do anything about it. It was an act of God,” said Corder.
The turkey’s fans planned a vigil at the parking lot near the Papa Murphy’s restaurant to celebrate the joy he brought to residents. But some didn’t feel the same way. One woman who was picking up a pizza said “all this for a stupid turkey when there are people starving around the world.”
Soon afterwards FOX40 saw a carload of young people rip down the tribute poster and speeding away as the laughed.
Corder reports that the Facebook is still gaining members, even after Tom’s death.