YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, MI – The death of a well-known wild turkey in Washtenaw County has left more than a few Facebook users with some ruffled feathers and sad spirits this Fourth of July.
Whittaker, a turkey known for his “sassy free spirit,” was struck by a car Monday, July 3, as announced on the Humane Society of Huron Valley’s Facebook page. He was euthanized Tuesday due to “multiple severe injuries.”
“We know that Whittaker held a special place in many people’s hearts, and his sassy free spirit will be missed,” the post reads. “We share our world with wildlife who call the outside their home. Let’s do all we can to keep them safe.”
Whittaker gained notoriety as the turkey that roosted near Whittaker and Textile roads in Ypsilanti Township, strutting in the streets regularly and stopping traffic. He routinely avoided capture and attempts at being relocated.
His brazen attitude of approaching cars and pecking them as they passed earned Whittaker a spot in the hearts of many on social media.
Concern for Whittaker was raised after a user on Facebook posted a photo of some feathers and a visible mark on a road near the turkey’s usual haunt. It is unknown when the turkey was struck, but the society reported many people called about the safety of Whittaker.
Photos and videos posted to the “Rogue Ypsi Turkey” page show people attempting to transport Whittaker to the humane society. An animal control officer eventually captured Whittaker and placed him in a pet carrier.
Unfortunately, it would be the last time this turkey would trot in the wilds of near Ypsilanti.
Several Facebook users expressed condolences to their flamboyant feathered friend.
“We sure will miss this silly bird! I don’t want to tell my kids that she’s gone to bird heaven,” posted user Michelle Henry. “Thank you to all the people that looked out for her and took it slow. I’m so very sad, that even if accidental, this driver wasn’t more vigilant.”
Sarah Elizabeth Neumann posted that she felt inspired by Whittaker when he was alive, writing “God loves to use the simple and seemingly insignificant things to teach us sometimes.”
“Thanks for always giving me something to look forward to when I had to make an annoying trip to the bank or to Kroger,” she wrote. “Thanks for bringing our community together over the ridiculousness of falling in love with a stubborn turkey who refused to be caught and insisted on making the middle of the street his home.”
The Humane Society took Whittaker’s death as a sad, but teachable moment.
“Each year, we see hundreds of animals hit by cars in our area,” reads the post. “Sometimes these are unavoidable accidents, but often they can be avoided with defensive driving strategies like slowing down, paying attention to wildlife signage shoulder areas, watching for ‘eye shine,’ being hyper-vigilant at dusk and dawn when many animals are most active and using bright headlights in low visibility areas.”
Because of the Fourth of July, the Humane Society of Huron Valley could not be reached for additional information regarding Whittaker’s death.