By Carla Charter
JOHNSTON, RHODE ISLAND – “The bird stops with me,” said Mayor Joseph Polesina, referring to Frenemy, the turkey which has taken up residence near town offices and has been harassing passers-by. Recently Polesina held a meeting with the town’s police chief, deputy chief and two animal control officers to devise a plan to catch Frenemy, and relocate him to nearby Snake Den State Park, where two of the birds feathery cohorts had been relocated to in September. Frenemy eluded capture at that time.
Polesina described the bird’s antics as “a kind of John Dillinger-Al Capone situation. This lone turkey is fresh and has no table manners,” Polesina joked. In the past Frenemy has trapped the administrative assistant in her car and gone after Polesina when he tried to help. The bird stood in front of the fire battalion chief’s vehicle and refused to move. When the vehicle moved the turkey chased after it. “He runs down the yellow line in the middle of the road. Emergency vehicles and trucks will blow their horns and he just stays there,” Polesina said. “It stops traffic and we are up the road from the police and fire stations. It has stopped the rescue, police and fire vehicles and minutes can be a lifetime.” He also added he did not want the turkey to get hit or cause an accident.
He said there was an attempt to catch the bird about a month ago by animal control and the SPCA, using a device that would shoot a net over the bird but the device did not work. Frenemy escaped once again. “He is making my animal control officers look like turkeys!” Animal Control now has to use a different vehicle when trying to capture the turkey, he added,” as the bird recognizes the animal control vehicle and flies away when it sees it. “We have received zero help from Rhode Island Environmental Management,” Polesina said.
Another issue Polesina believes is contributing to the turkey staying in the area is that people are feeding it. “He goes to Starbucks and people are throwing him pieces of muffins. If people were throwing me muffins I’d probably go there too.” Polesina believes Frenemy may also be being fed fries by people at the local fast food restaurant as well. that at Thanksgiving, Polesina did not eat turkey, opting for Lasagna instead. “I was afraid of flashbacks,” he joked.
Polesina said as a result of his interactions with Frenemy, he has been educating himself on turkeys. “Turkeys fly up in trees and sometimes telephone poles at night to protect themselves from enemies. They eat in the early morning. Turkeys can see you blink from 100 feet away.”
Polesina admitted that Frenemy has become a bit of a folk hero and has brought a lot of publicity to the town. Recently he added that he had a surprise visit courtesy of several other Rhode Island mayors and officials. “They hired somebody dressed in a turkey out fit riding a unicycle to visit the town office.”
Polesina also had to compete against Frenemy at the polls in the last election. “He received 69 votes against me in the most recent election. Even though we have had no tax increases in three years and has a strong infrastructure.”