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Amherst's traffic-blocking turkey sent to rural refuge

Tom the turkey has a new home far from the East Amherst roost he ruled for years, authorities said.

The male Eastern wild turkey routinely seen blocking traffic at Paradise and Klein roads was relocated Wednesday to the Nora's Ark rescue and wildlife rehabilitation center in East Concord,  Amherst Police Animal Control confirmed Thursday.

Nora's Ark, on its website, is described as an "all volunteer organization dedicated to the emergency and extended care needs of New York State wildlife and the rescue and rehabilitation of companion livestock that have been neglected or rejected by our communities."

A photo provided by Nora's Ark to Amherst police showed the turkey being released from a crate into a rural setting lined with trees.

Attempts to reach Nora's Ark were not successful Thursday, but Amherst officials said Tom is reportedly being provided a proper diet and is safe from passing vehicles.

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

Tom gained celebrity -- or notoriety to some -- for his exploits, which included blocking lanes, pecking at tires and circling cars. Amherst police captured Tom on Wednesday afternoon to remove what they said was a distraction for motorists at the intersection. Police received a permit from the state DEC to trap the turkey and also consulted with the DEC about the best approach to take.

The plucky bird has a Facebook page dedicated to his sightings. Reactions on social media to Tom's capture was mixed, with many commentators disappointed that Tom was captured in a net and spirited away by animal control.

" in a way..took him out of his home," one woman wrote on the Paradise-Klein Turkey page on Facebook.

"He survived there for years without incident and the community loved him... it wasn't necessary, he was comfortable there and everyone watched out for him. Daily drives won't be the same" wrote another woman.

A third predicted, " I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know that he is a turkey. He’s not going to make it out in the real world."


Tom the turkey wanders in traffic on Klein Road in Amherst on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

Nora's Ark says it was founded in 2011 to respond "to the rehabilitation needs of those animals that are sick, injured, or orphaned and release healthy wildlife back into their natural habitat." Some East Amherst locals said Tom walks with a noticeable limp.

The Noah's Ark Facebook page includes posts with photos and videos of fawn, geese, horses and other animals relocated to the sanctuary.

Mature male turkeys, or "Toms," are about 2.5 feet tall and weigh up to 25 pounds, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation. There are about 180,000 wild turkeys found throughout the state and they prefer mixed areas of forest and farmland. Acorns and beech nuts are among turkeys' favorite foods, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Turkeys can fly 40-50 mph over short distances, according to the DEC. They can swim, but usually run or walk to escape danger. Turkeys also have keen hearing and superb eyesight, enabling them to evade predators.

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