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Published November 15, 2012, 06:09 PM

VIDEO: Roger the Turkey gobbled up lots of love in Glyndon

GLYNDON, Minn. – When families here gather around their Thanksgiving turkey next week, it will be the absence of a different turkey they may feel most strongly.

GLYNDON, Minn. – When families here gather around their Thanksgiving turkey next week, it will be the absence of a different turkey they may feel most strongly.

Roger T. Turkey, the wild turkey that Glyndon residents had adopted as one of their own and was profiled in a story by the New York Daily News last month, died after being struck by a car on Highway 10 last weekend.

Pam Ness, Glyndon’s city clerk, says Roger’s death has left a hole in the culture of the town.

“Everyone is saddened by it,” she says.

Roger first appeared in Glyndon in the middle of the summer when a herd of wild turkeys passed through town, according to Glyndon Police Chief Mike Cline.

The herd continued on, but for some reason, one of the turkeys decided to stay.

The weeks passed, and the bird stuck around, picking up the name of Roger and becoming a household name around Glyndon.

“People would feed him, and he made his home in front of the old bank building and watched the traffic go by,” Ness says.

School kids fed him Chex mix, corn and potato chips, and he became so used to the city life residents could snap their fingers to get his attention and he’d come running.

“He’d roost in the trees, walk around town, sit on neighbors’ porches and steps,” Cline says. “Everybody loved him.”

“He was kind of a Glyndon community pet,” Ness adds.

Doug Hedtke, an assistant wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Fergus Falls, Minn., says Roger’s behavior indicated that he probably wasn’t altogether a “wild” turkey.

It’s hard to say for sure whether Roger came from domesticated stock, but Hedtke figures the way the bird acted around people is a sign that that was probably the case.

“My guess is that’s probably where Roger’s genetic roots lie,” Hedtke says. “That’s a sign of a semi-domestic bird.”

Regardless of his background, Roger’s temerity led him to nonchalantly cross Highway 10 back and forth even in the midst of heavy traffic, much to the town’s concern.

“He kept crossing it, holding up traffic for blocks,” Cline says.

And in the end, Roger finally tempted fate (and traffic) one too many times, and was struck last weekend.

“I was afraid that would be his demise. I was worried that it was going to happen,” Cline says.

Roger’s death came just a week before Cline and the Glyndon police were planning to pardon the animal for Thanksgiving and perhaps even move him to a safer place.

“We had thoughts about taking him over to someone’s farm, and get him away from Highway 10,” Ness says.

Instead, the residents now mourn the loss of the friendly fowl – their fowl – that, as far as Ness can tell, never harmed anyone in the four months he was part of the town.

“I’ve never heard of anything but him being friendly,” she says. “He was an incredibly friendly wild bird.”

Roger’s memory lives on, though, through his own page on the Glyndon city website, and through the shared experiences he had with local residents.

“Roger just found Glyndon a friendly place to live,” Ness says.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535