By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Officials plan to relocate unofficial school mascot
Wild turkey has made Matt Elementary home for years
Placeholder Image
Forsyth County News

While Matt’s future is uncertain, one thing’s for sure — he seems pretty happy with where he is now.
Matt Elementary School’s unofficial mascot, also called Matty and Turkey Lurkey, isn’t leaving the school without a fight.

Though the turkey has made the school its home for several years, some parents have expressed concern for their children’s safety. And recent reports about the school turkey have generated additional interest.

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Special Service Section was contacted and set a trap to catch the turkey.

Though the trap hadn’t done the trick, Special Services Sgt. Deblois said “due to all the publicity, the DNR now has gotten involved.”

“It was kind of a nice situation where we had the leeway to possibly relocate it to a local location right down the street,” Deblois said. “But due to all the publicity and because it became so sensationalized, the DNR is now involved in it.”

Initially, DNR officials tried to capture the turkey with nets and saw little success.

“It’s pretty obvious that’s not going to work,” said Kevin Lowrey, assistant regional supervisor at the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division.

Lowrey said the next two options will require a more tranquil tactic.

“There are some oral baits, oral tranquilizers and there are some tranquilizer darts. The only thing is it’s not something we commonly do. Our method of trapping a turkey is a rocket net, and rocket nets and neighborhoods don’t necessarily go hand in hand. We’re limited because of the situation.”

Local mom Jackie Scroggs, who owns more than 20 acres of farmland, stepped up to take the turkey once it was caught.

Scroggs, who already owns two other turkeys, said she was concerned for the turkey’s safety. She added her farm would keep Matt safe and secure.

Though a deal had been reached between Scroggs and the county’s special service section to turn the turkey over to her, the DNR will not likely honor the deal.

Lowrey said while it was a nice idea, “it’s not practical.”

“My understanding is she lives fairly close to the school,” he said. “The thing will be back in a couple of days if she takes it there ... and we’ll be right back to where we started.”

Scroggs, who had planned to keep a daily online journal of the turkey’s activities, said while she lives near the school, the farm is several miles away in the Sawnee Elementary School district.

“The turkey would have to walk a pretty good way to get back,” she said, adding the farm would give the bird “a safe place to roam where there are no highways, no traffic, no school traffic no buses. He would just be on his own to do what he wants to do.”

“This is going to be upsetting to so, so many people.”

Lowrey said that when officials do capture the turkey, he will likely be given to a petting zoo or education center with a wild animal permit.

“He definitely is not going to be euthanized and it’s not going to be released into the wild,” he said.
Deblios said his section is only involved at the DNR’s request, and now has no say in where the turkey will be sent.

“There’s no telling where it’s going,’ he said. “I know where it won’t be going now. It won’t be going down the street, because when the DNR deals with a situation, they’re not going to deal with it a second time.”