Angry Bird: Wild Turkey Attacks People on DC Trail

Video shows the big bird angrily chasing a woman

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A man captured video of a wild turkey chasing and attacking him and another woman on a trail in Northeast D.C.

DeDe Folarin, a member of the D.C. go-go band Rare Essence, frequently cycles on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail near Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens. But a recent trip on the trail was unlike any other he's had.

"Just riding along the path, this gigantic turkey just kind of, like, jumps up towards my face ... almost claws me in the face. So, kind of knocked me off my bike, and then it proceeded to chase me around for, like, five minutes," Folarin said.

Then, Folarin says the turkey went after a nearby woman who tried to fend it off with her bicycle. Folarin caught the encounter on video.

"I put the phone down and picked up the biggest twig I could find and started whacking the bird twice," Folarin said. The turkey eventually ran into a bush.

Folarin says he and the woman have been repeatedly asked why they didn't just run away.

"They can be very aggressive. They're very fast and you've just never been attacked by a turkey before," he said.

There have been multiple sightings of wild turkeys along the trail dating back to November.

"There's actually a pretty healthy turkey population in D.C. and the surrounding areas," said Dan Rauch, a fisheries and wildlife biologist for the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). "There's at least a hundred, maybe even two, here in the District."

But not all wild turkeys are friendly.

Rauch believes the turkey that attacked Folarin is the same turkey that multiple people have reported seeing from Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens in D.C. to Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Maryland.

He said the DOEE has tried to catch the bird.

"I've been out there looking for it and I've been out there using different turkey calls, calls with males or females, trying to attract it in in order to catch that bird," Rauch said.

"This is a male so it's a pretty large turkey and when people see it, it will drop its wings, it will pop off to display."

The DOEE plans to catch the bird and have a veterinarian evaluate it before releasing it in a nearby wildlife sanctuary.

Until then, Rauch says visitors to these areas should be cautious and call animal control if they spot the turkey.

"If this turkey approaches you, I'd try to back up and move away," he said. "It is a big bird. They do have spurs. They can run and they can fly."

Correction (April 27, 2022 at 10:04 P.M.): This article has been updated to reflect that the turkey attack took place in Northeast D.C.

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