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On a cold November morning in a quiet neighborhood north of Salt Lake City, the sun is shining.
The only noise comes from cars heating up on the driveways, and visible condensation rising from the exhaust pipes as the valley wakes up. Neighborhood cats stand watching their porches and stare at the occasional dog walk.
After that, the rooster squawks, the devouring chorus sends the cats into hiding, while cars and people rush to the scene.
In this neighborhood, turkeys are its most beloved inhabitants. One of the most famous of them is the Rosy Turkey Garden.
Rosy Rose Park Turkey
The Rose Park and Fairpark communities share a nursery for a rosie, a female turkey, or a hen. She recently had six babies, or husks, who will likely hatch in late June or early July.
Rosie’s name came from an April 2019 poll of the “Rose Park Communities” Facebook group, which includes Rose Park, Fairpark, West Point and Jordan Meadows. The name easily beats all other suggestions.
Residents often post views of their Rosy on a Facebook group—whether it’s pictures of Rosie “asking” on the neighbors’ front porch, or of her and her cuddles hanging out in the backyard. Poultry flyers date back to April 2017, and since then, it has become a mainstay – and a celebrity – in the area.
This is the only time she’s seen wild turkeys living in an established urban neighborhood so close to town, said Joyce Morgan, who has lived in Rose Park for 45 years, putting the three men who were in the area on November 18 even. A rare sight.
Society never found out who gave birth to Rosie’s six children — making her a single mother, which is how wild females typically raise their young, according to Heather Talley, upland game coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
“We all really got attached to her…and now her kids,” Morgan said. “It’s something fun, happy, and kinda exhilarating.”
Tali said Turks like Rosie usually settle in urban areas during winters with heavy snow, and seek refuge in lower elevations to find food — but last winter was exceptionally mild, and the wildlife department didn’t spot much of what they called “noisy turkeys.” in the Salt Lake Valley neighborhoods.
Between 25,000 and 35,000 wild turkeys live throughout Utah, after their reintroduction in the 1950s, according to the Department of Wildlife. Prior to their reintroduction, turkey populations had not been seen in the state for about 100 years or more.
“We are definitely dealing with [nuisance turkeys] Tally said. “We’ve had poaching every year since 2014, because we’ve already had nuisance and looting issues with turkeys every year, but the extent of that nuisance depends only on the area.”
Angela Morgan, another Rose Park resident, said in a Facebook message that people often use the community group to check out Rosie, and keep track of recent views so they can make sure she’s okay. She also warned Rose Park residents to protect their unofficial mascot, which is rumored to convey good luck on every visit.
She wrote, “I would venture to guess if any of us ever saw someone harassing her, they would be quickly expelled from society into the depths of Hell or even worse, Daybreak.”
Although a nice addition to society, the bird can get into mischief. Joyce Morgan remembers the time when Rosie enjoyed making fun of a neighbor’s German Shepherd – she ran to her fence with her feathers puffed up, much to his chagrin knowing full well that a dog couldn’t break through the barrier.
“You can’t hand-feed them or anything like that, but they’re not afraid of you,” said Joyce Morgan. “They love cat food, and we feed stray cats.”
One day, she noticed a group eating her cats’ food, and tried to keep them away. And they were like, ‘Oh, yeah, we’ll listen to you,’ she said, ‘just kind of carelessly walking away from me.’
Alicia Ramirez has lived in Rose Park for the past 25 years, and has been landscaping for various residents of the area. During her work, Ramirez said that she sees Rosie and her children often, and that the bird and her cuddles are always together.
“She visits everyone,” Ramirez said. “Who do I work for now… When she told me what to do, you know, to clean her yard, she was like, ‘Just excuse the mess because Rosie and her kids always come and visit our garden, they love my yard so so much… But it’s really good to let them They come to visit them.”
Some other neighborhoods may have their own roses, but wildlife helps re-establish in areas where birds don’t like it very much. Autumn hunting is one way to reduce disturbing populations, but the main method is trapping and resettlement.
“If people are feeding turkeys, even if it is something that is safe for them to eat, it is creating an artificial assemblage of wildlife in one area, so the spread of disease increases exponentially,” Talley said, noting that while some people might like them, others may not.
Some of the turkeys flown in by the wildlife department leave with a parting gift: GPS backpacks, which help officials locate birds after leaving noisy areas.
As for Rosie, the wildlife department wouldn’t “go around stealing turkeys from people” unless someone called her and complained about her, Tully said, or unless there was a risk to her safety. The Turks are also considered a protected wildlife, so anyone wishing to harvest them must obtain a permit and hunting license, while also following the Department of Wildlife regulations and season guidelines.
As long as Rosie and her cuddles don’t bother anyone, they’ll probably stay there.
“It’s a lovely place to live,” said Joyce Morgan of Rose Park. “And it’s really interesting and exciting that we have things like wild turkeys that most people can’t see.”