Traverse City Turkeys Deal with Fame, DNR

"We don’t want the turkeys to get hurt. We want them to get moved."

A pair of Traverse City turkeys has become local celebrities, even as the DNR tries to move them to a safer place.

The two male turkeys have been spotted hanging around one of the busiest intersections in Traverse City for the past few months: Garfield and South Airport Roads.

Monday the DNR launched an effort to capture and relocate the fine feathered friends—affectionately named Hammer and Nails—and support for these birds is growing steadily.

Dan Bodamer of Bodamer Brothers Flooring says, “That’s the busiest intersection in Grand Traverse County and two turkeys are in the center of it. It’s excellent. And they don’t care, they just move a little bit out of the way.”

They’re locally famous. There’s even a Facebook page devoted to the popular pair.

Business owner Beau Warren of T-Shirt Robot and Tee See Tee is a part of the group.

“It’s pretty obvious what’s happening. I think people need something positive and something a little lighthearted,” he says. “The craziest thing, just everybody rallied behind these two because I think it was just a fun, cool thing that was going on.”

Bodamer says he sees the birds frequently.

“They’d hang out at my store, they’d try to come in the door a few times. I don’t think they need flooring.”

Granted, there are safety concerns. So much so the DNR came out on Monday. Two wildlife staff and three conservation officers tried to catch Hammer and Nails.

Wildlife Biologist Steve Griffith says, “They seem to know when you have an ulterior motive. We were able to herd them out of the intersection but unfortunately, we were not able to catch them.”

The DNR has no plans to try again. But even if they do at some point, the goal is to safely relocate them alive and well.

“The intention was to catch them and relocate them quite a distance away,” Griffith says.

For now, a failed mission is a reminder to drivers to be careful, especially near Garfield and South Airport Roads.

“It’s not a high speed area but nevertheless, it causes backups. We want to urge people to stay in your vehicle. It’s just too dangerous to get out in an intersection like that,” Griffith says. “It gets to be complicated as well as potentially dangerous with a panicked animal then darting out into traffic. Actively trapping or pursuing them like that is really a last resort.”

Bodamer thinks drivers are actually slowing down more often because of the birds.

“What it’s really done is it’s lessened the traffic accidents here because everyone slows down to go around the turkeys,” he says.

The founder of the Facebook group is thrilled that the fan page has caught on, even if the DNR hasn’t caught the birds. Linda Little says most of the interaction on the page is positive.

“They have enjoyed having an alternative and a group that’s funny, humorous, and positive and it’s just a distraction from everything else that’s going on.”

Warren’s t-shirt screen-printing company just down the street is catching on, too.

“It just seemed like they were almost becoming a mascot of Traverse City. And they were tough, and they didn’t care. They don’t care how big your truck is. They will stand in front of you. I just thought it would be really funny to celebrate them with a t-shirt.”

But it’s not likely to be a long-term phenomenon. Griffith says, by spring, “They should get bored of that intersection. There’s going to be other things going on in their lives.”

The Facebook fan page now has more than 4,000 followers who want to gobble up every bit of information about those now famous turkeys. You can find a link here.

By the way: other businesses are feeling the turkey spirit—even if it’s not on purpose. Evola Music store sells drumsticks and you can find Wild Turkey for sale at the nearby liquor store.