The hunt is on to find out who is harming brush turkeys in Byron Bay after a bird was killed in a bow-and-arrow attack and another injured when it was speared through its shoulder.
“Heavens knows why they did it, maybe [the turkey] was disturbing the garden as brush turkeys tend to do,” chair of wildlife carers group, WIRES Northern Rivers, Annie Crowley said.
“A lot of the members of the public were really concerned about their children seeing it and not being able to do anything about it.”
Bird spent five weeks with a speared shoulder
It took five weeks to locate the injured turkey, which still had the arrow lodged in its shoulder.
Ms Crowley said it was a disturbing sight.
“There was a lot of frustration, even a little bit of anger towards those who had [injured the turkey],” she said.
Ms Crowley said the call went out to the community to help locate and catch the injured turkey.
“It was really wonderful to see the community come together,” Ms Crowley said.
“I lent a net to one neighbour and then we got National Parks and Wildlife involved. They came down and we set up a trap with a huge black net.
“People were writing stories on Facebook. We were getting phone calls. People were getting very concerned.”
A rescue mission
The turkey continued to evade capture until one resident lured the bird into her chicken shed with food.
“We pulled the arrow out. We gave it an injection of antibiotics and painkillers and kept it over the weekend,” Ms Crowley said.
The turkey was taken to a vet for X-rays to determine any internal injuries and miraculously it had no significant damage from the entry and exit hole of the arrow.
It was then released back into the backyard in which it was captured.
From there, it leapt from the cardboard box and flew up into a nearby brushbox tree.
Nuisance or not, brush turkeys are protected
Ms Crowley said she understood that turkeys can be a menace in the suburban garden, but there was no excuse for such violence and cruelty against the animal.
Brush turkeys are a protected species and it is an offence to hurt them.
Police have both arrows and are investigating the incidents.
The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service has launched its own investigation and is calling for help from the community to find the culprits.
A spokesperson for the organisation said it was pleased the injured animal had been caught, treated and released.
It said serious fines are in place for both animal cruelty and harming protected wildlife, with a maximum fine of $22,000 under the Biodiversity Conservation Act.
National Parks said it was working with the RSPCA and police to look into this latest act of what it said is “sickening cruelty”.