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Amherst's traffic-blocking turkey nabbed by town police

Amherst's notorious traffic-blocking wild turkey is in custody.

The wild turkey known to most locals as Tom -- beloved by some and disdained by others -- has been a fixture at the intersection of Paradise and Klein roads in East Amherst for years.

But after Amherst Police received an increased number of complaints about Tom over the last week, he was trapped Wednesday afternoon by an animal control officer.

"The turkey is unhurt, unharmed, and the plan is just to relocate it somewhere where it's safer for the turkey or it's more suitable for a wild animal than the middle of the intersection," said Amherst Police Captain Kevin Brown.

Amherst's notorious wild turkey has no fear of people, cars or Thanksgiving

The male eastern wild turkey garnered attention for his antics, including blocking road lanes, pecking at tires and circling cars. Mature male turkeys stand about 2.5 feet tall and weigh up to 25 pounds. There are about 180,000 wild turkeys in the state.

Residents seemed evenly split on whether Tom should stay -- or go.

Brittania Drive resident Russell Dye said he was approaching the intersection about 2 p.m. Wednesday when he saw a police car blocking traffic on Klein and another officer chasing the turkey with a net.

After making a left turn onto Paradise, Dye said he saw the turkey caught in a net in a driveway.

"We're kind of disappointed," he said. "I guess our hope is they take him to a place where he'll be happy. Personally, I think he was happy there."

Mary Faracca, athletics assistant at nearby Williamsville East High School, said Tom has seemed bolder than ever lately, which made her "cringe," in her words, at the menace he poses to motorists.

"I really felt he was going to cause an accident," she said. "I was glad today to hear that he was taken somewhere he'll be safe."

On a Facebook page created for the intersection's wild turkey, most commentators lamented Tom's departure from his usual spot.

But others felt police made the right move.

Brown, the town police captain, acknowledged there were strong feelings on both sides.

"We're truly trying to be sensitive to both sides of it," he said. "Ultimately, though, the turkey does run in the intersection and we just don't want it to cause a traffic accident. God forbid somebody should get hurt trying to help the turkey, or feed it."

Amherst Police received a permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to trap the turkey and also consulted with the DEC about the best approach to take, Brown said.

He said he did not know Tom's whereabouts late Wednesday.

"Our biggest thing, obviously, is public safety, especially for the people who are driving in the area," Brown said.

"For the safety of the people driving, for the people walking or trying to help the turkey and even for the turkey itself we just thought it was best to relocate it somewhere else," Brown said.

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