Wild animals all over the Bay Area have been feeling emboldened and entitled as humans have retreated more and more indoors. And one such animal is a turkey who's been given the name Gerald, who has taken to menacing anyone who tries to relax or — how dare they? — picnic in Morcom Rose Garden in Oakland's Grand Lake neighborhood.
"A wild turkey began circling me as I was climbing the stairs,” writes Oaklander Vanessa Graham on NextDoor. “Before I could react, he jumped on my back… but not before he was able to claw my inner thigh."
The Chronicle picked up on these tales of terror on NextDoor and spoke to 76-year-old retired church administrator Jeanne Silver, who was similarly accosted by Gerald in recent days.
"It was traumatic," she says. "All of a sudden it attacked me. It happened so fast. He got me with his talons and his wings. I didn’t know turkeys did things like that."
It's unclear how long Gerald has been strutting around the rose garden acting like he owns the place, but it's clear he's come to play and/or kill someone.
NextDoor users are warning neighbors that they shouldn't expect to quietly picnic in the vicinity "without an escape route."
"He was relentless," writes one woman who says she was trying to have a picnic in the rose garden recently with her fiancé before Gerald attacked. "My fiancé barely warded him off with a stick. People in the park yelled at me to ‘hold my ground.’ He was stalking me and I swear I was getting flashbacks to the velociraptor scenes in Jurassic Park."
Wild turkeys have had a prevalent presence in the East Bay for a number of years, and residents have both complained about and celebrated the fact that the turkey population has been very clearly expanding in their midst. Rafters of wild turkeys — that is the appropriate group moniker, though "flock" also works — were being documented roaming the streets of Berkeley back in 2012. And SFGate covered their anecdotally growing numbers in 2017, speaking to one person who grew up in the Oakland hills and said they never used to see turkeys roaming around, and now they're everywhere.
According to this Oakland Wiki, the large, often aggressive birds have been a noted presence around town for at least seven years, and the police department does not respond to calls about the birds. Also, legend has it that a turkey nicknamed Sir Jive Turkey "shredded someone's pit bull," though that can not be confirmed.
Update: An Oakland resident and defender of Gerald writes in with a corrective, saying that Gerald has a mate and chicks to defend right now. "The turkey's behavior coincides with the tiny garden becoming packed with visitors during this era of social-distancing. People fill the park, even walking through the areas where the turkey family finds protection." She also says they bring dogs, which is against the rules for the park, and the turkey is merely defending his turf.