The saga of Gerald, the wild turkey who had taken to attacking humans in Oakland's Morcom Rose Garden but seemed to have a specific hatred of older women, has seemingly come to an end. A wildlife capture expert snared the bird Thursday and removed him to the wilds of the deeper East Bay where he can live out his days among other turkeys.
We first heard about Gerald and his reign of terror in the rose garden back in May. SFist's initial story about him inspired a great deal of passion from animal lovers who wanted us to know that Gerald was simply protecting a brood of baby turkeys and his mating partner, and they didn't want media reports like ours to bring any harm to him.
But the bird was, by most accounts, unusually aggressive. A 76-year-old woman in the neighborhood described a surprising attack by Gerald in which he "got me with his talons and his wings," and she said the experience was "traumatic."
Other female victims described the turkey "stalking" them when they were trying to picnic, and getting violent when he approached.
In June there was a public argument playing out in the Grand Lake neighborhood over the possibility of euthanizing Gerald, but now four months later it seems the he has escaped the death penalty.
As ABC 7 reports, Rebecca Dmytryk, director of Wildlife Emergency Services, took care of the task of kidnapping Gerald on Thursday, first luring him with "blueberries, kibble and sunflower seeds." She had her husband hide nearby, and she disguised herself as a frail, older woman — Gerald's preferred victim profile. She tells the station she played into his aggressive needs, backing away and acting scared as he puffed up and prepared his attack.
"I saw his reaction to me and I said, 'Oh, you want a piece of this? I'll give it to you," Dmytryk relays to ABC 7.
She then grabbed him by the scruff of the neck like you would with a misbehaving puppy, and shuttled him into a cage for the short drive east, to Orinda.
He's reportedly been released in an undisclosed location, somewhere where others like him roam.
Anne Dunn, director of Oakland Animal Services, tells ABC 7 that this is the happiest possible ending for Gerald — the result of a months-long effort in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
"After being at this for five months... to be on the other side and to know the turkey is now in a wild area, situated with other turkeys where he will be safe, it feels like the best possible outcome," she says.
Photo: Mike Taylor/Twitter