Davis arrow-toting turkey gets relief and release

There's one lucky turkey in Davis who will be a lot more comfortable this Thanksgiving, thanks to UC Davis veterinarians and the state Department of Fish and Game.

The male turkey has been running around with an arrow in his posterior at least since last week after being shot by an unknown archer.

On Friday, he was finally captured and the arrow was removed. He was then released to strut and peck again.

It was not known if someone was trying to shoot the bird for the dinner table or use the turkey for some type of fowl target practice.

Fish and Game received a call last week about the bird and its predicament. Turkey experts were deployed and they confirmed that the bird was in stable condition but was difficult to approach.

Game warden Patrick Foy and Fish and Game wildlife veterinarian Ben Gonzales spotted it Friday morning in south Davis and finally captured it with a net gun.

Foy, a veteran turkey hunter, knew that the way to hunt turkeys is to find their roosting spots.

The duo staked out the roost tree. When day dawned, the turkey left the tree for a parking lot. Foy blocked the bird with his pickup and Gonzales fired the net gun.

A nearby female turkey was none too happy, loudly chirping when the male was netted.

The bird was transported to the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Teaching Hospital, part of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where it was examined by a team of veterinarians specializing in avian species, according to a UC Davis news release.

Through X-rays, Michelle Hawkins, associate professor of veterinary medicine, determined that the arrow had penetrated only the soft tissue, missing vital organs.

Veterinarians anesthetized the turkey and removed a target arrow, which differs from a razor-sharp hunting arrow. Antibiotics were given to the turkey, and after he could stand on his own, he was released. Captivity is stressful to wild birds.

The bird was taken back to his south Davis turkey habitat and set free. He wasted no time in getting away.

"It should reunite with the female and there's a good chance it will be back in that roosting tree tonight," Foy said.