By Karen Brainard
The elusive wild turkey running around San Diego Country Estates with a green arrow through his chest has been captured and is recuperating at an Escondido animal hospital following successful removal of the arrow.
“He’s doing well this morning. He’s eating,” Dr. Carrie Bone, D.V.M. with the Acacia Animal Health Center reported Wednesday morning.
Veterinarians treated the turkey, known as “Archer,” on Tuesday after two California Fish and Wildlife biologists were able to catch him, using a net gun that shoots a net over the bird.
Bone said the animal hospital took X-rays and it appeared the arrow was all in the front muscle and did not damage any vital organs. She put him on antibiotics so an infection doesn’t develop.
“It seems like he was pretty skinny,” she said, adding that the arrow was probably affecting him.
San Diego Country Estates residents first reported seeing the turkey with the green arrow through his chest in April and worried an infection would set in or he would become an easy target for predators. No one seems to know how the turkey was shot.
Doug Lake, executive director with Emergency Animal Rescue in Ramona, said the turkey was hit with a target arrow that is not meant to take out animals like a hunting arrow.
A spokesman for Fish and Wildlife said the state agency responded to a similar circumstance last year in Davis.
"This is not unusual, unfortunately," he said.
Lake said he had been trying to catch Archer for three months.
“We chased him all over the place. He was able to run and fly and roosted up in the trees at night,” said Lake. Although Archer was able to fly, the arrow prevented him from going as high as the other birds, he explained.
Archer hung out within a few blocks of the Davis Cup Lane area, said Lake, who went to there almost every evening and weekend to try to capture the turkey by dropping a net.
“He was quite elusive and quite wary of humans,” Lake said.
Lake was part of the group — a combination of residents and volunteers — who were sitting around one time and decided to name the bird.
“Someone wanted to name him Green Arrow,” Lake remembered.
Archer, however, was suggested and it stuck.
Lake said residents put out food for Archer.
“He had been shunned by the rest of the flock because he was a little different from them,” said the rescue volunteer.
Lake said on Wednesday that he was planning to visit Archer that evening at the animal hospital.
“It got personal,” he said of his interaction with Archer. “After a while I’m being outsmarted by a turkey,” he added with a laugh.
Bone said the veterinarians are watching Archer’s progress and may move him to Project Wildlife, a program in San Diego County that cares for injured wildlife, or keep him for a while. Acacia has treated turkeys before, Bone said, adding “But never a turkey with an arrow through it.”
According to Lake, Archer’s human neighbors in the Estates would like to seem him return.