A beloved and rebellious member of a Wisconsin community has died, Kenosha police said in a Facebook post.
“Sadly ‘Carl’ the turkey was hit by a vehicle earlier in the day and died. Carl will be sadly missed,” the Kenosha Police Department said Dec. 7.
But Carl was more than just a turkey to many in the Forest Park neighborhood of Kenosha.
The turkey was an “unofficial mascot” of the city and was dubbed “Kenoshian of the Week” in September. It has inspired several Carl-themed merchandise items, including t-shirts and stickers from local businesses.
In fact, Carl has amassed over 6,000 members in a dedicated Facebook group since its launch on September 6th.
Almost daily, photos of Carl filled the group’s timeline, along with accounts of sighting. Around Thanksgiving, supplies were gathered to make Carl’s paper, mousse, and even chocolate in her honor.
Carl notably came into conflict with law enforcement during his stay in the spotlight, because of his contempt for the rules of the road. He often strutted in the middle of the streets and “harassed” cars by pecking their wheels.
Kenosha Police displayed a particularly tense moment between the outlaw bird and an officer when confronted with his scalawag ways. Even when confronted with the badge, the turkey persisted and continued to walk the road at will. Of course, the police bowed to their will.
While he can certainly get his way, Carl has been described as a gentle bird with a harsh exterior who would never attack a passer-by. Instead, Carl would simply run away when a wanderer got too close.
“I have never seen a turkey in Kenosha casually walking around,” a resident told Kenosha.com. “It’s been such a crazy time and some people think it’s a spiritual sign. It’s weird but good. I think seeing how a turkey can fit into a city as well as it does is actually pretty cool. “
At the height of his celebrity status, Carl was profiled by The Guardian in November, just weeks before his tragic accident.
“Kenosha has had a very difficult year, especially with the lawsuit,” Lisa Hawkins, creator of Carl’s Facebook group, told The Guardian, referring to the Kyle Rittenhouse lawsuit.
“He makes everyone smile, even if he gets into traffic and disrupts and delays things,” Hawkins said. “I think it’s pretty amazing how this turkey could have been the one thing we can all stand for, smile and laugh.”
Then tragedy struck.
Carl’s fans have responded to his death.
“Last night (Monday) as I was on my way south on Pershing… I thought of Carl,” one commenter recalled. “I kept my eye on him thinking, ‘I’d better not be the guy hitting him tonight.’ … RIP Carl, you had Thanksgiving!
“He liked shiny things and cheap alcohol (Wild Turkey). Ultimately, his love would be the cause of his untimely death, ”said a member of the Facebook group.
“He was our Phoenix… literally helping Kenosha rise from the ashes,” said another Carl lover, while also noting “yes, I have two turkeys in my freezer right now.”
Local musician Keith Pauley premiered a song in honor of Carl in October.
“In the town of Kenosha, there is an outlaw who runs free, in the streets and on the sidewalks, in the trees where he can roost,” he sang. “He is a champion of the people and an enemy of the law.”