photo of a turkey
Kaley the missing turkey.
(Courtesy of Ariana Huemer)
Coast Life

Turkey search heard ‘round the world continues

A day after Thanksgiving, Kaley the turkey still hasn’t turned up — despite a $15,000 reward for her safe return.

But Kaley’s owner, Ariana Huemer, who runs the nonprofit Hen Harbor chicken, duck and turkey sanctuary in Felton, wrote on Facebook Friday that she isn’t giving up hope of finding Kaley alive — her spirits buoyed in part by national and even international press coverage of the turkey’s disappearance.

“While we continue the hopeful search for Kaley (there have been credible reports of a white turkey roaming with the wild turkey flock in the area where Kaley was last seen), there has been positive press about her situation,” Huemer wrote. “Please take a few moments to read these articles and post supportive, pro-turkey remarks in the comments section.”

Huemer then links to stories in the New York Post and London’s Daily Mail about Kaley. They’re among several news organizations, including Lookout Santa Cruz, which wrote about the unusually high reward. Huemer started at $5,000, but tripled the amount as Thanksgiving Day approached, apparently concerned Kaley might end up on a holiday dinner table.

Lookout’s attempts to reach Huemer on Friday were unsuccessful. An attorney who represents her said she was overwhelmed by the publicity and was taking a break from interviews.

Kaley is a gray and black Narragansett turkey — a breed descended from the mix of native North American turkeys and birds brought to the eastern U.S. by European invaders. She went missing after an influx of birds displaced by the CZU Lightning Complex fire ended up at Hen Harbor in late August. But the Santa Cruz County Animal Control department, citing complaints about sick birds, removed all of those birds shortly thereafter.

Huemer — marshaling testimony from two dozen witnesses who support her rescue work — won her bid to reopen the sanctuary, court records show. But she never was able to find Kaley.

A Lookout story on Wednesday detailed how Kaley likely ended up with another Narragansett turkey owner who also lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains by mistake. That person’s turkey enclosure got attacked by a predator, raising the possibility that Kaley perished in that attack, or escaped and is in the wild.

Huemer told Lookout she knows it’s unusual to care so deeply about a turkey.

“Everyone’s just acting like, Oh, the f---ing crazy lady in the mountains is acting crazy again. She wants her f---ing turkey back. It’s just a turkey,” she said on Wednesday.

But, “it’s not crazy to love someone,” she added.