- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 22, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Continuing his role as animal advocate in chief, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu on Wednesday pardoned a 45-pound (20.41-kilogram) turkey that claims a connection to the “Mother of Thanksgiving.”

Sununu, a Republican, presented the turkey Wednesday to his Executive Council, which voted unanimously to pardon the bird for stealing another turkey’s food.

In its pardon paperwork, the turkey, named Hale, sought clemency for culinary and lineage reasons. Sununu said it was descended from turkeys raised in Newport in the late 1700s. Newport is the birthplace of Sarah Josepha Hale, an author and magazine editor known for her campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.

Though Sununu said the turkey from the Drown Farm in Webster was nervous, it appeared supremely unruffled standing in a box atop a table in the council chambers. Sununu joked that he feared that Democratic Councilor Chris Pappas would object to the pardon, given that his family owns a restaurant famous for its poultry products.

“No one knows the value of this turkey like the King of Chicken Tenders,” Sununu said.

The pardon marked the third time Sununu has stepped in on behalf of animals.

In May, he ordered Fish and Game Department officials to relocate three young black bears that had been slated to be euthanized after they repeatedly ransacked trash cans and bird feeders and broke into a home in Hanover.

In August, he revamped a state commission on animal welfare and called for stronger animal cruelty laws after authorities said they rescued more than 80 sick dogs from a filthy mansion.

“The bears, the Great Danes and now the turkeys, there’s no animal Governor Sununu won’t save,” he said.

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