RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – It was a wild turkey to some but a neighborhood pet to others.
Folks in a Rutherford County neighborhood are upset that someone shot and killed a turkey that has roamed the neighborhood for years.
This happened the first day of the start of turkey hunting season but on a neighborhood street and not in the woods.
On Chadwick Drive, there wasn’t a car nor person the neighborhood turkey didn’t like.
“Every time somebody comes by slow, a car, he’ll run out to the car,” said resident Joe Reynolds.
“He would come out and greet you; everybody loved him,” said resident Mary Shaft.
So you can only image how neighbors felt when they found out their beloved turkey had been shot and left for dead Sunday morning.
“I don’t know why anyone would want to kill that turkey because he’s old and big. I don’t know why they would want to shot him,” Reynolds told News 2. “That’s very cruel for anybody to want and kill that old turkey there’s no reason to shoot. Somebody had to have hate in their heart to kill that turkey.”
It was the talk of the neighborhood on Monday.
“All that’s left is some feathers and blood,” Brandy Jenkins said. “It’s terrible; it’s just terrible.”
Jenkins got a little emotional talking about the turkey she named Bill; but it had many names, including Tommy the Turkey, Fred, Brad and Chad.
Jenkins is now concerned about kids and pets in the neighborhood.
“It just scares me now to let them go out of the house because some person is running around shooting innocent creatures,” Jenkins said. “It could have hit one of our children that were playing. It could have been a stray bullet. Anything could have happened.”
Resident Jean McCartney told Rutherford County sheriff’s officials she had been looking out her front window and observed a Maroon truck stop. She said the truck backed up and appeared to call the animal toward it.
The turkey was walking toward the street when she heard a loud boom and witnessed two occupants in the truck peering over the side of the truck.
She ran out of the house when she realized they had shot the turkey, and the truck took off at a high rate of speed.
Neighbors told News 2 the suspects apparently returned Sunday evening. One neighbor saw the pickup, gave chase, and got the tag number.
Neighbors would feed the turkey, but officials with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency say they advise against feeding wild animals because they lose their natural instinct to fend for themselves.
“Don’t make them into pets,” said TWRA agent Doug Markham. “It’s not illegal to feed wild animals, but you can’t shot them over bait.”
“I’m sure he was well feed; he was a big fat turkey,” Rutherford County resident Fred Shaft said.
Sunday was the start of the turkey hunting season. Markham said if a person shoots and kills a big game animal, like a turkey, they must check the animal in online or at a participating store.
TWRA has to document the kill because a hunter is only allowed four turkey kills a season.
“We never condone shooting a wild animal in a neighborhood,” Markham said.
Pam Stallings doesn’t live on Chadwick Drive but brings her three granddaughters by nearly every day to see the turkey.
“They love Tom Turkey, don’t you?” Stallings asked her granddaughters. “I’ve always been afraid that one of those days we come by here and someone would have run over it. I never dreamed someone who shot it.”
Neighbors told authorities the suspect was in a late model maroon Ford pickup with tinted windows and blacked-out rims with license plate number 006-6SB.
Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are both investigating.