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Who rules the roost? Northland woman loses patience with pesky pheasant

A rooster pheasant walks across the cover of Deb Kozlowski's pickup near her home at Wrenshall. The pheasant has been something of a pest in recent days. (Photo by Deb Kozlowski)

It's all fun and games until the pheasant flies into someone's back.

That's how Deb Kozlowski of Wrenshall sees it.

"He's going to be a dead bird," Kozlowski vowed.

For several days, Kozlowski has had a rooster pheasant hanging around her rural home. It walks around atop the cover of her pickup bed. It comes up to her every time she comes home. It even flies down the road, chasing her pickup, when she leaves.

"The other day, I was going 40 miles an hour down the road," she said. "He was flying his little butt off trying to catch me."

But Wednesday, the gaudy gamebird crossed the line.

"We had an incident," Kozlowski said. "He attacked me from behind. I was going out to the garage, just going down the deck stairs, and he's right there. I was just ignoring him. He flew right into the back of me. I turned around and kicked at him, and he came at me again."

Kozlowski, who for 34 years was a parking enforcement monitor for the city of Duluth, is no stranger to confrontation. But now the bird has pushed her too far.

"I hate to kill the bird, but I've had enough," she said. "This bird is terrorizing me."

Fortunately, pheasant season is open.

Chris Balzer, assistant area wildlife manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Cloquet, said the rooster is probably acting to protect territory.

"It is bizarre behavior," he conceded. "I suspect it's slightly confused. He doesn't have any other pheasants to chase off, so it's chasing other things. And if it was raised in captivity, they can sort of imprint on people, and sort of recognize people as their own kind."

The rowdy rooster may have escaped from Clear Creek Outdoors, a game farm that offers pheasant shooting not far from Kozlowski's home. Pheasants are uncommon this far north.

The bird hasn't chased Kozlowski's boyfriend or other males, she said.

Kozlowski isn't a hunter. She has asked a neighbor to do the deed, but he declined. Another neighbor is a hunter. He came over to Kozlowski's to deal with the brazen bird Wednesday evening, but it was too dark.

Meanwhile, the saga continues.

And Kozlowski is watching her back.