VIDEO

Injured turkey gets Thanksgiving reprieve at York rehabilitation center

Posted Nov. 28, 2013, at 5:34 a.m.

YORK, Maine — While the rest of us are gobbling up turkey on Thursday, one woman is using Thanksgiving to promote support for the Center for Wildlife, where a wild turkey she saved is recovering after being struck by a pickup truck.

The turkey known as B819-13 but called “Alice” by East Parsonsfield resident Meg Lord, is resting comfortably. Lord brought the turkey to the Center for Wildlife on Nov. 1.

Lord is encouraging people on Turkey Day to make a donation to the center for the care of the turkey and other wildlife recuperating there. The center operates through donations, without state or federal support.

The center’s staff expect the turkey will be released in a few weeks when its broken wing is fully healed, according to wildlife specialist Erin Burns. Last Thanksgiving, the center treated a turkey wounded after it flew through a living room window.

Alice was injured around dusk on Oct. 31 as it, and about seven other turkeys, jumped from a field onto Route 160, according to Lord, who was driving from Limerick to Parsonsfield at the time.

Lord said she saw two to three younger and smaller turkeys dart into the road and into the path of a pickup truck heading towards her. Lord believes the bird that was struck, which was bigger, had gone forward to get the others back from the road.

“He did the best he could,” Lord said of the driver of the pickup. “He slammed on his brakes.”

The other turkeys ran back to the field. The wounded turkey wobbled and collapsed in the long grass, Lord said.

Both vehicles pulled over. As many people in the area are hunters, Lord thought the driver would emerge with a gun to put the turkey out of its misery. Instead, he helped her wrap the wounded bird in a blanket provided by another woman who had also stopped to help.

Lord said she spoke gently to the bird as she and the driver lifted it onto the passenger’s seat of her own pickup.

The driver asked her, “’Do you think we should put a seat belt on her?’” she said.

“Sure,” was her reply.

Somehow, the name “Alice” came to mind, named for no one in particular, she said.

On the road again, Lord released the seat belt as the turkey shifted onto the floor. Alice stayed there in the blanket throughout the night, as Lord went out several times to check on her.

“It was a warm night,” she said. “At one point it was really amazing. I went out and told her, I’m doing the best I can. She popped her head up and listened. I thought, at least she’ll have a quiet place to die.”

The next day it took over an hour for Lord to drive from East Parsonsfield to Interstate 95 and the York exit. She was 15 cents short at the tolls, and asked the attendant for an IOU form.

“I have a turkey,” she said.

The woman replied, “Oh my God, bless your heart, you don’t have to pay a thing.”

Lord calls the center four times a week to check on Alice’s progress, she said.

The center’s staff doesn’t name the animals being rehabilitated, treating them as wild animals and not as pets, Burns said. The turkey known as Alice may even be a male. It’s hard to tell because the bird is still a juvenile, she said.

The turkey will be released to an area where there are known turkey flocks, Burns said.

Lord said she’s willing to travel back to York to release Alice at its home in Parsonsfield.

Even as a kid, her family always seemed to be treating wounded animals, she said.

A former vegetarian, Lord is rethinking her Thursday dinner invitation.

“I’m probably going to pass on turkey on Thanksgiving,” she said.

She is encouraging people to donate to the Center for Wildlife to help defer the hundreds of dollars it’s costing to rehabilitate Alice.

For information on the center and donations, visit www.yorkcenterforwildlife.org.

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