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Motorists Warned To Watch For Wild Turkeys

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It is the last thing Grand Rapids resident Jim Mayerle expected while on a leisurely Sunday drive in northern Minnesota.

"I'm very careful and leery of deer. But turkeys, no!" Mayerle said.

He said he had his 2017 Toyota SUV in cruise control, traveling about 60 miles per hour. It was shortly after 1 p.m. when suddenly, along Highway 73 in Carlton County, a large, dark object leapt from the ditch and took flight.

"He had enough elevation to come over the fender, and when I saw he was going to hit, I just leaned over," Mayerle said. "I was afraid he was going to come through the windshield."

Turkey Hits Windshield
(credit: Jim Mayerle)

That flying object was a wild turkey that flew smack dab into the middle of his windshield. The violent impact sent out an explosion of tiny shards of glass into the passenger compartment.

"I did have splinters of glass in my hair," Mayerle said.

Fortunately, and out of pure instinct, Mayerle tucked his head onto the center console and was not injured. More importantly, he held stead to the steering wheel and did not swerve.

Turkey Hits Windshield
(credit: Jim Mayerle)

An ABRA Auto Body and Glass technician was scheduled to swap out the windshield on Thursday, but the damage is too severe.

There is a small dent in the steel roof edge, and impact sensors inside the SUV will need to be recalibrated.

It all means that the vehicle will be towed to a Cloquet body shop for more extensive repairs.

Turkey Hits Windshield
(credit: Jim Mayerle)

"With the body work like this, it's probably going to be in the couple-thousand-dollar range between the glass and the body," said glass technician Randy Wermter.

Mating turkeys are on the move this time of year, and practically nowhere in Minnesota are motorists safe.

"We've seen a lot of turkeys up here this year, so I'm not too surprised," Wermter said. "They're all hanging in the ditches now."

Since turkeys were reintroduced to Minnesota in the early 1990s, they have spread their range everywhere but in the state's far north and the Arrowhead.

Mayerle's advice to other motorists is simple: "I guess if you see a turkey, slow down."

Great words of caution, because a windshield is no match for a 25-pound bird taking flight during its springtime frolic.

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