West Leechburg turkey captures hearts while eluding apprehension
A white turkey roaming free in West Leechburg has captured the hearts of some borough residents.
It has managed to elude capture, and the identity of its owner remained a mystery Wednesday night.
West Leechburg police Chief George Lebetz said his department received multiple calls about the turkey, including reports about it roosting atop vehicles.
Photos of it have cropped up on social media, including ones of it mingling with a large group of wild turkeys, perching on porch chairs and standing in the middle of a borough road.
People on a West Leechburg Facebook group have even given it a nickname: Turk.
“This turkey is like a neighborhood kid,” Lebetz said of the bird. “It’s not a nuisance. It just won’t leave.”
The chief advised residents to leave the turkey alone and not feed it.
Second Street resident Chris Rager would like to see Turk find its way home soon.
“It’s going to die. It’s not used to this cold,” Rager said. “It’s probably used to being inside.”
She said a neighbor wanted to put a blanket on the turkey to keep it warm. Turk slept on a neighbor’s porch Monday night but refused to eat corn that the neighbor left outside for it, Rager said.
Rager said she placed calls about the turkey to borough police and the Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center in Verona on Wednesday. Lebetz said his department notified the state Game Commission.
“It’s making little noises and pecking at the grass,” Rager said. “I’d like to see it find a home or its owner.”
It doesn’t belong to Pounds Turkey Farm in neighboring Allegheny Township.
“We don’t have any turkeys right now. We will get them in April,” co-owner Beverly Pounds said, adding that the farm didn’t lose any of its turkeys last year during “turkey-processing time.”
Pounds said she suspects Turk is domesticated.
Lebetz initially suspected the bird was a white albino turkey, but said he changed his mind after coming face to face with it Wednesday night.
The police chief got up close to the turkey while trying to catch it in a sheet. Before he could wrap up Turk, the bird flew off.
Joni Oberdorf, a Leechburg Area School District elementary teacher, said she first spotted the turkey in December over the district’s holiday break. She took several photos of it mingling with wild turkeys in her yard and shared the photos on social media.
“I was shocked to see 19 turkeys in my yard — let alone one white turkey meandering with the others,” Oberdorf said.
“I took pictures for two reasons: the amount of turkeys, and I wanted to incorporate the lesson I like to teach in my kindergarten classroom,” the schoolteacher said. “It’s OK to be different, that’s what makes us special.”
Joyce Hanz is a freelance writer.