Before we dig into this one, we can all agree: mail carriers and other delivery personnel put up with a lot when it comes to animals. Whether it’s a dog that feels the need to defend its home with a ferocity rivaling Rambo, the neighborhood deer that callously throw themselves in front of moving vehicles, or the increasing number of apex predators now prowling suburban streets, this line of work pits its employees against all sorts of furry foes. Just imagine if milkmen still delivered glass bottles to everyone’s porch every morning.
On Monday, Feb. 28, in Sacramento’s Arden-Arcade neighborhood, a foe of the feathered variety met its match in a United States Postal Service (USPS) mail carrier who was fed up with the bullying. When a big tom attacked, the unidentified USPS employee allegedly smacked it on the head with some form of stick or club. They are now under investigation from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the USPS for killing the wild bird.
Wild turkeys have been reported terrorizing the area’s residents and visitors alike in recent weeks. Birds have chased after box trucks, pecked at vehicle tires, and run up and down the streets gobbling their heads off. But the mail carriers seem to get the worst of it, as one local who once had to fight a turkey off a different carrier’s back told news station KCRA3. Growing beyond 20 pounds with sharp, 2-inch spurs, a mature male turkey can inflict some serious damage if it’s after you.
The deadly outcome of Monday’s confrontation—and the obvious issues with killing wild animals without licenses and proper weapons—reveals the residents’ mixed feelings about the turkeys. Some think they’re a treasure that should be left alone. Others are fed up with the tomfoolery and want to see the state step in and take action to protect delivery drivers.
“They have tried pepper-spraying them, they have kicked them, they have hit them with their mailbags and nothing's working," Patrick Foy, information officer and CDFW game warden, told KCRA3.
Whether the turkeys pose a legitimate physical threat depends on the person. But apparently this particular bird apparently wasn’t the type anyone wants to mess with up close.
“I'm a game warden. I've been doing this 25 years,” Foy said. “It was the biggest turkey I have ever seen.”
Residents and officials point towards an excess of food availability in the area, according to the Los Angeles Times. Some households reportedly feed the turkeys, which violates state law as well as common sense.
The moral of the story here is that feeding wildlife is essentially as good as killing it, whether that’s at the expense of your own safety or someone else’s. Either way, when Theodore Roosevelt talked about speaking softly and carrying a big stick, this isn’t what he meant, but we’re guessing he’d approve.