A wild turkey that for three weeks sowed terror in the small town of Louiseville, Que., was killed Thursday morning by a sharp-eyed man armed with a slingshot, Mayor Yvon Deshaies says.

He likened the incident to a biblical scene. "A slingshot, like in the days of David and Goliath," the mayor exclaimed in an interview.

Deshaies said the young male turkey was part of a group that wandered into the eastern section of the municipality, located about 95 kilometres northeast of Montreal. The bird quickly became more aggressive than its companions, routinely chasing residents and once attacking a man in a wheelchair, the mayor recalled.

A video circulating on social media shot by someone in the town shows a seemingly panicked man running circles around a parked vehicle with the turkey in pursuit.

The situation even led families to fear bringing their children to school, Deshaies said. He said he asked provincial wildlife protection officials for help earlier this week, but that when his plea failed to prompt action, he issued a public call for someone to take down the bird.

The turkey died quickly, after only two shots of the slingshot, he said, adding that the man who killed the animal planned to cook and eat it for supper Thursday. Deshaies is keeping its feet, however, so he can show off the sharp talons.

Manitoba-based ornithologist James Duncan says it's possible the Louiseville turkey came to view humans as sexual competition and deployed tactics and natural weaponry it would use to fight off other birds: strong wings, a hard beak and a sharp spur that juts out from the back of its legs.

"It's frightening," he said in a phone interview. "They're a big bird. If you don't know what's happening and why, you might think that this is kind of a zombie bird."

Quebec allows wild turkey hunting only on specific dates in the spring and fall, and Deshaies is protecting the identity of the man who killed the animal for fear of reprisals. But the mayor shrugged off the possibility that he could face any legal action for encouraging the killing of the animal.

"At some point, you have to defend yourself," he said.

In a statement, Quebec provincial police said they have determined the killing of the turkey did not constitute a crime. The provincial government department responsible for wildlife said officials are investigating the incident.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Feb. 29, 2024.