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A Somerville turkey that became a neighborhood icon is no more

State wildlife officials said the bird “had a long history of aggressive behavior.” But some residents had enjoyed seeing the turkey while on walks during the pandemic.

The Somerville turkey before he was euthanized by state wildlife officials for acting aggressively toward people.@somervilleturkey on Instagram (Custom credit)/somervilleturkey

Some people referred to him as the Dunkin’ turkey, since he hung around outside of a Somerville coffee shop and followed people to the front door. Some fed him, and he learned quickly.

Others knew him as “Pat Cluck,” “Mayor Turkatone,” or simply a “neighborhood treasure.”

But the beloved fowl, which built a considerable fanbase as a familiar distraction from 2020′s many woes, was euthanized by state officials last week after a series of incidents where the bird apparently scratched or acted aggressively toward passersby, as well as staff at a hospital.

Online, admirers of the turkey’s strutting presence shared their condolences.

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“THEY EUTHANIZED THE SOMERVILLE TURKEY AND I AM DEVASTATED,” one person wrote on Twitter this week.

“RIP Somerville Turkey,” another wrote.

Throughout the pandemic, people walking through parts of Somerville became acquainted with the prominent bird.

By July, someone started an Instagram account on its behalf, aptly called “Somerville Turkey,” to share images of the bird strutting through the neighborhood, hiding in bushes, roosting on fences, and sometimes causing traffic jams on Central Street in the Spring Hill area. Others noticed and submitted photos and videos of their own.

The account described the bird as “a classic wild turkey who enjoys kindness, not being honked at, and bringing joy to humans” and had more than 1,700 followers.

The person who runs the account had posted that the neighborhood icon had possibly been brought to a sanctuary in New Hampshire this month. But they later delivered the difficult news that the turkey had been put down.

“While I still have trouble wrapping my head around death being the only resolution, I understand that this was a difficult decision,” wrote the account holder, who asked to remain anonymous. “I have so many conflicting and confusing feelings about this ... but really, I just wish he had received better.”

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In a message, they said they’d “received endless kind messages” from “people thanking me for the account, saying it was their only bright spot in such a strange and uncertain time.”

David Scarpitti, a wildlife biologist and turkey expert with the state’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, said in an e-mail to the Globe on Thursday that the decision to euthanize the bird was the result of a “long history of aggressive behavior where more than one individual” was attacked.

“It was a disruption to patients and caregivers at a medical facility [on Central Street] and the whole situation was 100 percent a function of people feeding the bird in the nearby areas,” he said. “After repeated attempts to curtail feeding (unsuccessful) and active hazing and harassing, the situation was not relenting so our staff captured and humanely euthanized the turkey.”

Scarpitti called the situation “unfortunate,” but blamed people for feeding the bird. Giving turkeys food can lead to bold and aggressive behavior, which once established can be hard to break.

“I realize this turkey had quite the following, but animals actively attacking and acting aggressively towards humans is not acceptable in any scenario,” Scarpitti said.

Officials also said this type of action is a last resort after all other options have been exhausted.

The bird’s death led to an outpouring on social media, with people sharing pictures they had taken of the bird over the months as they escaped the confines of the indoors.

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Some people even held a “turkey send-off,” and at 8 p.m. on Sunday went out onto their front steps and gobbled in tribute.

“Give your best gobbles out your windows in homage to our beloved boy,” one person wrote. A few of the videos were shared on Instagram.

On a thread this week on Boston Reddit, people lamented the loss of the turkey and shared a few laughs over times it chased their family members.

Tales of aggressive turkeys in Greater Boston are common, and this was hardly the first time that a turkey rose to local fame, garnering a following despite its behavior. In Reading last year, a turkey nicknamed “Limpy” because of its slight gait turned into a minor celebrity before it eventually died after being hit by a vehicle.

In Somerville, the loss lingers. Yet there’s already a new fascination in town: peahens spotted roaming near some of the turkey’s old haunts.

There’s even an a way to follow them online, “from the account that brought you the @somervilleturkey.”


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.