News and stuff about Lake Forest and Lake Bluff

Turkey Caught In Red Tape

Village officials have been working with the state Department of Natural Resources since May to find a suitable place to relocate the “Lake Bluff turkey,” but wide-reaching publicity and strong affection for the wild bird have hobbled all of the plans to date.

“This bird was a topic of humor, but that’s long since gone away,” Lake Bluff Police Chief William Gallagher said at Monday night’s Village Board of Trustees meeting.

(Mid-story footnote: GazeboNews broke the turkey story on May 9; click here to read it. Soon after that story ran, the Chicago Tribune was on the case, followed by the Pioneer Press and just about every Chicago TV station. The bird also has its own Facebook page, Flickr slideshow and YouTube videos.)

“What has occurred is that everyone is overly cautious about what needs to be done,” said Chief Gallagher, who considers the bird a serious traffic hazard.

Chief Gallagher said that when police first reported the wild turkey to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the officers were told to euthanize the bird.

“We said that’s not going to be the greatest idea,” the Chief reported. “There are too many folks who are fond of it. So DNR said they needed to do research to find out what we can do with it. They came back and said, ‘If you have a location, have them come and get it.’ ”

A spokeswoman for the state DNR told GazeboNews that her agency issued a permit to Lake Bluff on June 2, allowing an employee of the Village to remove or euthanize the turkey.

Lake Bluff police conferred with local wildlife centers and farms, including Elawa Farm in Lake Forest. Chief Gallagher said the farmers initially were warm to the idea of housing the turkey, but that they balked after realizing the amount of paper work they would need to fill out and licenses they would need to obtain.

Then Lambs Farm got involved. Lots of people thought this was a great idea, seeing as the property is due west on busy Route 176, a road that the turkey seems to really like.

“But the DNR was concerned about problems (since Lambs is not public land), so they kicked it to Springfield. Springfield said the turkey has to be captured and turned over to DNR who will release it on state property,” said the police chief.

Lake Bluff was ready to move. It contacted a firm called ABC Wildlife, which makes a living relocating wild animals. But like the farmers, the company got cold feet when it learned about the publicity and red tape surrounding the bird.

Other questions surfaced and were debated: is the turkey really wild? Should the turkey be trapped or given an anesthetic? If the latter, how much?

It doesn’t look like the issue of what to with Jeff will be resolved in the immediate future. Chief Gallagher told the board that on Tuesday, July 27, the state DNR will set down a permit to relocate the animal. “But they’re still not comfortable so they’re trying to make sure they have clearance with federal authorities,” he added.


  1. Barbara Monsor says:

    At rush hour last weekend Mr. Turk was standing in the middle of the intersection as cars whizzed by in all directions…no slowing down. I guess the bird knew enough to hesitate til the traffic subsided because he was there the next day. No accidents then but when? Where is the bold but secretive person willing to operate in the environmental underworld, defy authority and take him in the dark of night to some remote (and secret) location and let him loose. Sentimentalists might fuss but he’d be safe and so would we.

  2. My kids love the turkey. Just let him be!!! He may migrate back to were he lived at Crabtree Fams. Whenever I drive by my kids scream turkey!!! He’s our Mascot!!!

  3. Terry Mabrey says:

    Do turkeys like beer? They could have a beer.

  4. Terry Mabrey says:

    Federal authorities??? Now were thinking. Lets send it to the White House for a pardon on Thanksgiving! Lake Bluff’s “very own” pardoned by President Obama.

  5. Fred Chase says:

    Greed metastasizes in the private sector. Red tape strangles the public sector. What to do? What to do?

  6. C’mon get a grip people… it’s a turkey!!! This is what happens when people have too much time on their hands to worry about a turkey which by the way can cause havoc on the streets. There are hungry people out there and you guys are worried about a turkey.

  7. This is what’s wrong with our government. Too much paperwork, too many jurisdictions and departments, and no real common sense.

  8. Paperwork over a wild turkey? And, the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is also involved?
    Now, doesn’t that make you feel safe in this world of ours? Muggings, home invasions, terrorism…
    Can you imagine the paperwork ?

    If the turkey really is a safety issue–and I disagree with that idea–then donate it to Elawa Farm. Those of us who have an affection for Jeff can visit him and take a look at what Elawa Farm has to offer. Paperwork for that? How ridiculous!

    The decision to euthanize Jeff would certainly cause an uproar far more damaging and tedious than paperwork. I can just see the headlines: CHIEF OF POLICE RESIGNS OVER TURKEY KILLING BACKLASH

  9. You don’t mess with Mother Nature – Leave “Jeff” be! He may migrate in the fall all on his own. If he does, I hope he doesn’t have to fill out paperwork. Mary, be prepared to move if your husband shoots and eats our beloved turkey.

  10. My husband is willing to shoot it and eat it, and is willing to fill out “some” paperwork.

Speak Your Mind

Connect with Facebook


* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *