The park is temporarily closed "to attempt to train the turkey to keep a distance from humans"

By Ashley Boucher
June 12, 2020 11:12 PM
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Even turkeys have to learn to social distance.

The Oakland Morcom Rose Garden has been forced to close to visitors after a neighborhood turkey has begun attacking people — prompting several complaints to Oakland Animal Services about the fowl's behavior.

Gerald, as the turkey is known, is a regular fixture in the Grand Lake neighborhood, ABC 7 reported Friday, and before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) sent people indoors, was often seen walking peacefully around residents. Gerald even has a habit of lining up for school pickup alongside students' parents.

But the turkey in recent weeks has taken to aggressively attacking people that he encounters, ABC 7 reported. Plaintiffs to animal services called Gerald "relentless" and compared him to the velociraptors in Jurassic Park, according to emails obtained by the outlet.

An NBC journalist shared a photo of the park's temporary closure notice to Twitter Friday morning.

"Oakland's Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Development, Department of Public Works, and Oakland Animal Services have collaborated on the decision to temporarily close the Morcom Rose Garden," the notice stated.

"The city is aware of and is taking seriously several incidents of attacks by a male turkey in the park and considers this a public safety concern," the notice continued, going on to explain that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife "denied the city's request to relocate the turkey, indicating that it is not a solution, nor allowed by state law."

"The city has reported to CDFW the incidents of attacks on humans," it said, adding that it was the CDFW that said that park should be closed "to prevent feeding of wildlife, and to attempt to train the turkey to keep distance from humans."

"We have been advised this will only work if all feeding of the turkeys and other wildlife stops completely," the notice said, concluding that "it is hoped that visitors can return to the Rose Garden soon."

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"The city will continue to abide by California State law and will follow CDFW instructions regarding when the park may reopen."

Oakland Animal Services spokesperson Ann Dunn told ABC 7 that Gerald's attacks have reportedly decreased, but the turkey "is still approaching and chasing people."

"From the advice I received from wildlife experts, we would know the retraining has worked if he retreats and keeps his distance from people," she added to the outlet. "Unfortunately, he is not doing that on a consistent basis, even with very few people in the park."