A wild turkey has been seen for a few months on the campus of Niles West High School in Skokie, Illinois, a near-north suburb of Chicago, minding his own business in between doors 3 and 6, reports Sophia Lannoye in the school’s student newspaper.
“Most days, we shoo it away,” Sophia quoted the school’s facilities manager, Marcus Holleran, as saying. “It flies up into the trees, and then it comes back the next day and just kind of hangs out. So we’re seeing it as our school mascot, so we’re going to leave it be.”
It’s only a slight hazard for traffic on Oakton Street and other roads near the school, and social media reveals that some school groups and families have taken a liking to the bird.
“Right now, we are in the middle of a production where our students are directing one-act plays, and some of them have been rehearsing up in the auditorium balcony,” the school’s theater director, Samuel Rosenfeld, told the paper.
“One day, I was headed up there to lock up, and [some] of my students who were rehearsing up there were like, ‘Did you see the turkey?’ And I was like, ‘No, I haven’t seen the turkey. What turkey?’ So we ran up to the auditorium balcony, and right by the art gallery up there, there’s a little overhang that overlooks door 1. And the turkey was up there sitting, looking like Batman perching out over Gotham City. But it was the Niles West parking lot.”
The 2022 Festival of One-Act Plays runs Thursday through Saturday, December 15–17, at Niles West.
Plea for the Bird
The wild turkey is on a comeback, and it’s a conservation success story, the Chicago Tribune reported. Wild turkeys were once plentiful in Illinois but were almost wiped out due to hunting. Efforts in the mid-20th century by state and private conservation groups reintroduced them, and their populations are now stable.
As for the fate of the Niles West turkey, the meat is dry anyway and is actually the least favorite Thanksgiving dish for at least one student at Naperville Central High School in Chicago’s far-western suburbs.
In an article with no by-line, students suggest in the Central Times that some people probably “struggle to swallow the flavorless bird that didn’t have to die for such an awful cause. The only people able to choke down turkey are clearly using the dark arts. They are in line with Pavlov’s dog, hoping for sustenance no matter the flavor. It is not the 1600s. Let’s move on.”
The US Humane Society provides some advice about handling wild turkeys in populated areas. “Killing nuisance turkeys is cruel and doesn’t solve the problem (more turkeys will just take their place),” the organization writes before suggesting effective, non-lethal ways to get rid of wild turkeys that may become unwanted.