California Wild Turkey Successfully Released Back Into the Wild

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The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and UC Davis worked together to capture, treat and release a wild turkey that captured residents’ imagination this week.

Two DFG employees, Warden Patrick Foy and DFGWildlife Veterinarian Ben Gonzales captured an elusive wild turkey that was shot with an arrow and had been living in the Davis area with arrow protruding from its body. Early Friday morning, after several unsuccessful capture attempts, Foy and Gonzales used a netgun to secure the frightened animal and transported it to the animal emergency room at UC Davis’ veterinary care facility.

“This turkey was very lucky, we had some of the best veterinary care in the world available just across the freeway,” said Warden Foy. “It was a real animal ‘ER’.”

At UC Davis, the two-year-old male turkey was evaluated by a team of veterinarians specializing in avian species and surgery. Dr. Michelle Hawkins, associate professor of veterinary medicine determined that the arrow had penetrated the soft tissue of the turkey’s tail but had missed the bird’s vital organs.

“He will fly again,” said Dr. Hawkins. “The arrow was removed from the turkey and antibiotics were administered. When the turkey awoke, it was evident he was ready to go home.”

Friday morning DFGemployees and the Davissurgical team were on hand as the bird was released to its home habitat. Video is available at,

Wild turkey season is open through the Nov. 27, however the turkey was shot before the season had opened and was wounded with a target arrow instead of a hunting arrow, both illegal actions.

Weighing up to20 pounds, the wild turkey was once under consideration to be the national bird for theUnited States. While these wild game birds seem harmless, they often become pests, destroying flower and vegetable gardens, leaving their droppings on patios and decks, and roosting on cars.


hunter25's picture

It seems like one of these

It seems like one of these cases turns up somewhere every year and usually in a large city or populated area. So I think it's likely like Sean said that it may have been stupid kids not realizing or caring how serious of a thing htey were doing. Hopefull they will be caught but it seems unlikely at this point.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

It's idiots like this that

It's idiots like this that give all hunters a bad name, and it really sucks that it happened out here in my state.  The anti hunters will use this, probably showing photos of this turkey aroundsaying that this is what happens when animals are shot with arrows, and how they suffer.  Much like the photo of the mule deer doe with the arrow through her face from a year or 2 ago.  It caused an uproar.

However, this bird was shot by a practice tip, which means I don't even think it was a poacher.  I tend to think it was some stupid kids, or drunk idiots, who decided to take a shot at this thing with whatever they had laying around.  I guess technically, that would be classified as poaching, but I think this was more of a crime of opportunity (and stupidity) than it was a crime where someone intended to illegally take wildlife.

Either way, glad to see this guy get brought back to health and successfully released.  Who knows, he might still get shot for good later this week, or may survive till next year.  But, it's a happy ending for now.

Retired2hunt's picture

  Okay - first here I would


Okay - first here I would really like to see the poachers caught and fined for this.  Shooting a turkey out of season with a practice arrow is really an action of an immature hunter or somebody that has greater poaching actions already accomplished or no problem in doing so sometime in the future.  Secondly - funny that these people went through the time and effort to care for this bird only to release it back into its natural habitat only to be hunted and harvested legally.  It was most likely a great learning experience for the students at UC Davis so not a wasted effort... and the bird does belong back in the wild so I guess it was appropriate after all.  Just will be funny if some hunter harvests this bird legally and wonders what the stiches and/or scar is on the backend of the bird once plucked!