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Alex McRae Columnist

Published Sunday, December 02, 2012

Goofy over gobblers

Another Thanksgiving has passed and a sigh of relief has been clucked by the survivors at turkey farms across the fruited plain.

Until diners start grabbing gobblers for next year’s national feast the biggest danger to America’s turkeys will be from the cast of “Duck Dynasty,” who are known to kill a turkey (or possum or muskrat) when the mallards aren’t moving.

You have to feel sorry for America’s favorite also-rans. Turkeys are plenty tasty, but if national honors were beauty contests, turkeys would be the perennial runners-up.

Not that they don’t have supporters. No less an American icon than Benjamin Franklin once proposed that the turkey be named America’s national bird. Instead, the honor went to the bald eagle. And why?

Even my granddaughter knows the answer.

During our Thanksgiving visit, she said her kindergarten teachers informed her that the turkey was not selected as the national bird because “It was too ugly.”

Hard to argue that one. But just because someone—or something—is unattractive doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve our respect.

Apparently, turkeys are fed up with their second-rate treatment, too. In fact, a mob of wild turkeys in Massachusetts are not just fed up. They are fighting back.

Residents of swanky, upscale Brookline, Mass., are quivering in fear following attacks from what have been described as “hostile” turkeys.

Hostile takeovers I’ve heard of. But hostile turkeys? Sounds like a bad horror movie plot.

Karen Halvorsen was quoted in local media as saying turkeys had attacked her truck. Once Halvorsen piled in the pickup a neighbor tried to run off the birds, but failed.

Halvorsen dashed back inside, seeking safety in her quaint colonial home. No luck.

“The turkeys came and started attacking my front door,” she said.

A few weeks later Halvorsen was attacked again as she strolled through her neighborhood.

“I looked back and three of them charged me,” she said.

One actually scratched her neck. Halvorsen refuses to relinquish her pedestrian rights, so she has taken precautions. She got a hiking stick to wave at the turkeys and always carries her cell phone, the better to call 911 in the event of an attack.

Halvorsen isn’t the only target of the terrible Toms.

“Some people going to work and they’ve been chased by turkeys,” said Brookline Animal Control Officer Pierre Verrier. Animal control officials have even chased turkeys from local school campuses. They used tennis rackets.

Officials say the best way to avoid a turkey attack is to move across the street when you see a turkey coming. They also advise against taking pictures.

“There was a gentleman who took a picture with a flash and they flew right into his face,” Verrier said.

Karen Halvorson is frustrated with the town’s inability to protect citizens against the feathered terror.

“I can’t believe we’re living this way,” she said.

Neither can I.

Our forefathers were fearless adventures who hacked their way through the wilderness, climbed mountains, forded rivers and took on every challenge, conquering a country without a whimper or access to a single fast food outlet.

When the pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in 1620, you can bet they didn’t dash back on board the Mayflower and huddle helplessly when they saw a turkey. They ran straight at it, killed it, ate it and went back for more.

Now we shiver at the sight of a wild turkey. How sad.

Politicians claim 47 million Americans now rely on food stamps to feed themselves. Obviously, none of them live in Brookline, Mass. Otherwise, the problem wouldn’t be turkeys chasing people, but people chasing turkeys.

Send your email comments to alex@newnan.com

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