Members of Sterling turkey 'gang' find a new home

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Courtesy: Roger Atteberry Courtesy: Roger Atteberry
Courtesy: Roger Atteberry Courtesy: Roger Atteberry
Courtesy: Roger Atteberry Courtesy: Roger Atteberry
Courtesy: Mike Ludwick Courtesy: Mike Ludwick
STERLING, Kan. (KAKE) -

Wildlife officials say several of the wild turkeys that have invaded a small Kansas town are now roaming with another flock. 

Sterling resident Paula Gadberry-Small shared a photo of the Sterling Seven, the "gang" of juvenile wild turkeys that took over the city's streets and byways.

Now the Sterling Seven is down to three. The Kansas Dept. of Wildlife and Parks has captured four of the birds and re-homed them with another flock in rural parts of the county. They're working to get the last three caught and moved as well.


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There's a gang of what you might call 'juvenile delinquents' roaming the streets in Sterling, Kansas.  You could say they're just flocking into town to gobble up everyone's attention and have been for months.

"It's really cute.  It's cool," said Suzanne Stephenson about the fowl group some are now calling the Sterling Seven.

Even those who haven't seen the gang of five jakes and two jennies, all juvenile wild turkeys, wandering the streets, have heard about them.

"I see them on Facebook.  There's posts from the Sterling turkeys," Stephenson said, smiling.

Most, though, have stories of close encounters of the turkey kind. 

"I've interacted with them personally down on the street where you can get within two or three feet of them," said Brian Inwood.

He's something of a bird expert in town.

"These are young turkeys just hatched this spring," he explained.  

But, like most others, he's enjoying the chance to hang out with the town's largest winged residents.

"One of the things that I kind of like to do is, when they're down here by my house, get out my turkey call and try to call them into the yard," Inwood said.

 He added, "And, they go hang out at the elementary school a lot.  Almost every morning the kids get a treat and they get to see the turkeys in the playground or around the school.  So it's a fun treat for them every day."

KAKE News crew's efforts to see the turkeys for themselves on Wednesday were fruitless.   A lot of driving around and nary a feather to be found. Which got KAKE News wondering.

Sterling is known for its community wide Thanksgiving dinner.  The  meal was already in prep mode Wednesday.  So, KAKE's crew thought they'd check in just to be on the safe side, make sure there hadn't been any mix-ups! 

"There has not.  These are domestic turkeys that we're cooking.  These aren't our favorite wild turkeys over on Adams Street!" said Rochelle Prather, who runs the kitchens at Sterling College.  "There are no mistakes, I guarantee you.  Butterball has not been in the area at all!"

That said, the young flock has had its run-ins with the law.  Meischa and Jonathan Zimmerman shared surveillance video with KAKE News of the Sterling Police trying to round the turkeys up.  

The city wants to move them over to nearby Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, because adult turkeys can get aggressive.  But, with most in town considering the birds almost a new mascot, they don't want to risk injuring their feathered friends.

"A lot of people like them.  Some people are not such big fans of them.  They like to roost on cars and with their feet they can do some damage, scratch up the tops of cars and such.  But, as it gets colder, nothing's better than crawling up on a warm car, I guess," Inwood said.  "And some people like to feed them....They just come right up to them.  They don't have any fear whatsoever of people or vehicles.  You've got to stop in the road and they just kind of hang out until they decide to move out of the way. "

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