Free Turk! Wild police chase to help beloved Ramsay turkey drives bird to Beltline

Free Turk! Wild police chase to help beloved Ramsay turkey drives bird to Beltline

After a brush with the law, the Ramsay turkey trotted around in a new community over the weekend.

The wild turkey has been a neighbourhood legend since last May, and his 2,000 plus followers are always hungry for more 'Turk' — as locals have nicknamed the bird — content. Daily photos, videos and even musings about when and if the handsome male turkey will find a mate. 

But a video posted on social media over the weekend had Turk's loyal followers on high alert.

"We got a old-fashioned standoff going on," said Chase Skakun, behind the camera. "Turkey versus cop, oh yeah." 

In the video, three officers with arms spread wide were trying to corner the tom and coax him into a police vehicle.

Sirens blare in the distance. 

"Oh, backup's on its way," Skakun says, laughing as police officers appear to point and tell the turkey to walk toward the paddywagon. 

A second vehicle appears. 

Online, the followers reeled. Is he under arrest? Are they trying to move this bad bird out of town — or worse — cage him in a zoo? 

911 callers unfamiliar with bird alerted police

Const. Chris Martin said several 911 calls came in Saturday about a turkey on the loose in the Beltline. He said a number of the callers, unfamiliar with Turk, feared he'd escaped from the Calgary Zoo. 

When officers arrived they immediately recognized the bird. But he was wandering into the road and dangerously close to the CP Rail tracks.

"They thought what they would do is they try to catch him and just bring him back to Ramsay where there's less of a traffic hazard," Martin said. "A couple efforts were made to try to catch him and get him into a police vehicle … but he's pretty quick."

In the end, after consulting with Fish and Wildlife, officers opted to leave the independent Turk in the Beltline and Victoria Park area. Which was bittersweet for some of his followers.

"I was actually gonna go around trying to find him this morning," Martin said. "But pretty much right off the bat … we got a call about him from a gas station saying that there was a turkey at the gas pumps, it was refusing to buy gas."

In 2019, the Beltline slid in Avenue Magazine's best neighbourhood rankings because it has "too much of a good thing" — restaurants. But the food selection didn't seem to bother Turk, who was seen pecking at a bakery window on Sunday.

No Wild Turkey bourbon for Turk 

Later on, the bird was denied a sample at a local liquor store because, as the clerk said, he didn't have his ID handy.

Const. Martin kept a close eye on the bird.

"We don't need people to call the police — and especially not 911 — [about the] turkey," Martin said. "We've had a number of calls about him in the last 24 hours and we're well aware of Turk, and at this point in time he's fine."

Later on Sunday, a video appeared online of the bird being captured by Calgarians and returned to his Ramsay roost.

Turk has asked for privacy at this time and CBC News will not be further pursuing this saga for the time being.