Sacramento mailman accused of killing aggressive wild turkey

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For months, mail carriers in Sacramento County’s Arden Arcade enclave have been terrorized by wild turkeys, which sometimes disrupt deliveries.

Tensions between the fowl and a US Postal Service worker reached a violent high this week when the carrier killed a turkey on duty, officials said, prompting an investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

“On Monday, one of the mailmen actually had some kind of stick or something in his vehicle,” Capt. Patrick Foy, a spokesman for the department’s Law Enforcement Division. “And when one of the particularly aggressive male turkeys attacked him, he hit him and killed him.”

Foy declined to say what type of breach it might be, but said the department hadn’t issued a citation as of Thursday night.

“Our job is to establish what exactly happened and then we fill out a report,” he said. “We could send it to the district attorney and the district attorney would decide whether or not a crime was committed.”

The Postal Service said it was investigating the incident, noting in a statement that employees “have had multiple altercations with aggressive turkeys in the area, including a recent attack on a postman.”

“We have been working with the Department of Fish and Wildlife to mitigate the issue,” the USPS said. “However, this claim is alarming and, if true, inexcusable and does not reflect the efforts of our more than 650,000 employees who faithfully serve and deliver for America every day.”

So far, the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s investigation into the incident has revealed strange details about the region’s turkeys and their behavior and treatment.

Investigators found that some residents had been feeding the turkeys “large amounts of food,” which is illegal in California and may be a factor in the birds’ aggressiveness.

“It probably contributed to the enormous size of the turkey in question because it was just eating an unlimited amount of food from that particular household each day,” Foy said. “We are addressing this issue as an important factor contributing to this overall problem.”

The turkeys appear to have been targeting neighborhood delivery drivers since October, when the Postal Service began reporting the situation to wildlife officials. Foy said the attacks also disrupted deliveries from FedEx, UPS and other carriers.

Attacks by turkeys on humans are rare, Foy said, but are mostly attributed to the mating season, which occurs in April — so it “didn’t really make sense that … they’d be that aggressive in October.”

A wildlife protection officer and a biologist sent to investigate the reports saw a group of four turkeys attack a postman.

“He swung his mailbag at them and tried to fend them off,” Foy said.

Foy said the department informed postmen they could defend themselves and suggested the use of pepper spray, which postal workers are allowed to carry.

“They said, ‘Yes, we pepper sprayed them. We waved our mailbags at them. We kicked them and they’re still continuing the attack,’” Foy said.

Wildlife officials then tried and failed to capture the most aggressive of the birds.

After a temporary respite, the birds have repeated their attacks in recent weeks, and the Postal Service has again contacted wildlife authorities.

Foy said the turkey killed on Monday was by far the heaviest he had ever lifted.

“I’ve been at this for about 25 years, so I know about turkeys,” he said. “And I just looked at it and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s the biggest turkey I’ve ever seen.’ ”

Stranger still was the fact that the birds seem to spare local residents and neighborhood non-delivery staff from their wrath.

“I can’t explain it, but the aggressive turkeys don’t seem at all concerned about the residents of this community,” Foy said. “I looked it up myself.

“I went to the turkeys myself, and they wouldn’t have anything to do with me,” he said. “But when that postman pulled up, they immediately went on the offensive.”

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