Michelle Singleton did everything she could to keep Gertie healthy, happy, safe and alive, including getting her a prosthetic leg. (Submitted)

Sarah Simpson Column: Efforts to save turkeys showed community’s massive heart

Wild turkeys in Shawnigan Lake village. Who knew?

I’ve lived in the region for the better part of 15 years now and given the nature of my job, I’ve been really fortunate to have experienced a lot of the Cowichan Valley. I’ve seen a lot of cool and not-so-cool places, the highlights and lowlights, for sure. (Don’t take this the wrong way, but there are just some places you wouldn’t drive to unless something there was burning down.)

I’ve come to love the unique characteristics of each community. I’ve seen the murals in Chemainus, the Sea Walk in Crofton, the ball fields in Glenora. I enjoy the market in Downtown Duncan, the beach at Maple Bay and the area’s epic trail systems. One thing I’ve yet to see, and in fact I didn’t even know about, was the wild turkeys in Shawnigan Lake village.

Who knew? It turns out most of the Shawnigan community did. People love to see them out and about and alert each other on Facebook as to their whereabouts or if a momma has babies trailing along behind her.

Last week, however, members of the community noticed something was awry. One of the wild turkeys appeared to be impaled by an arrow.

“The poor little guy in Shawnigan. It was on the lam last week and people were just trying to keep an eye out for it,” SPCA Cowichan branch manager Sandi Trent explained.

On Tuesday, the bird was finally captured and transported to the south Island for treatment.

“I know a lot of people had tried to coordinate and everybody joined forces and it’s off to hopefully get the arrow removed and they’re going to bring it back to the community to hopefully join its family if it survives,” Trent said.

That was Tuesday.

Early Wednesday morning I learned the turkey had been taken in by a place called The Farm, a rescue, rehab, rehome non-profit in Victoria. From there it went to a veterinarian at Grace Veterinary Hospital where it was later euthanized.

“Sadly we had to end this girl’s suffering. The arrow had gone through her abdomen resulting in a large amount of necrotic tissue, infection and severe pneumonia,” said a The Farm Facebook post late Tuesday night. “Sadly she was in too poor of condition to survive any type of surgery to remove the arrow head. At least she wont have to suffer out in the cold being so sick.”

Speaking of turkeys, I also learned that Gertie, the one-legged turkey I met at A Home For Hooves Farm Sanctuary in October has also died.

SEE RELATED: Happy to be home at A Home for Hooves in Cowichan

Sanctuary owner Michelle Singleton shared the news via Facebook on Dec. 2.

“It is with absolute heartbreak that I announce the passing of Gertie. Due to Gertie’s disability of only having one leg it has been a constant battle dealing with cuts and abrasions on her wings due to her banging them as she tried to move around,” she wrote.

Gertie had a seizure and died in Singleton’s arms after battling an infection.

Two dead turkeys don’t really make for a good news column. Or do they? I’m writing about these poor birds because of the incredible efforts of a great many individuals in trying to keep them healthy and safe; the Shawnigan community for tracking and capturing the injured bird, the folks at the SPCA and its Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre. The people at The Farm and Grace Vet Hospital. Michelle Singleton and her husband and the volunteers at her sanctuary and the vets that tried to help Gertie.

So much love went into trying to help these two turkeys and that is worthy of recognition.

I think it was the 18th century German philosopher Kant that said “We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”

Based on that, I’m pretty certain this community has a massive heart.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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This wild turkey was searched for and cared about by dozens of people hoping it would be alright after being impaled by an arrow. (Submitted)

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