The FAA has explored an unusual fall tradition in Arkansas of dropping turkeys from airplanes, and has said there’s nothing they can do about the unusual drop. The poultry plummeting practice happens in Yellville, Arkansas where the annual Turkey Trot occurs. Located in Marion County, the heart of the Ozark Mountains, this area hosts a festival each October to celebrate the abundance of wild turkeys that live in the rural area. A pageant, parade, 5k Walk/Run, and live music are some of the activities that people enjoy at the event. But the highlight for many is the Turkey Drop.
During the Turkey Drop, live turkeys are dropped from a plane 500 feet in the air. Festival attendees then race to catch the turkeys that are dropped. According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, a dozen turkeys were dropped and two died on impact. In the previous year, no turkeys were reported injured; the same is true for this year’s October Turkey Trot Turkey Drop.
Some animal rights activists have complained that the turkey drop is cruel. One such person is rock music icon Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe. Lee sent a letter urging the mayor of Yellville, Arkansas, to put an end to the city’s tradition. “I’ve met some wild Arkansans over the years while touring there with Mötley Crüe, and I thought I’d heard it all,” writes Lee. “But I just heard from my friends at PETA about a twisted Ozark ritual that even the most deranged headbanger couldn’t invent: dropping live turkeys from a plane as the ‘entertainment’ at the ‘family-friendly’ Turkey Trot festival. I’m writing to add my voice to the thousands of others asking you to help deep-six this sick stunt.”
The FAA explored the legality of it and said there is nothing they can do. “FAA regulations do not specifically prohibit dropping live animals from aircraft, possibly because the authors of the regulation never anticipated that an explicit prohibition would be necessary,” an FAA spokesman told HuffPost in an email. “This does not mean we endorse the practice.”