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The Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] has said it doesn’t have the power to stop live turkeys being thrown from planes.

The animals are thrown out of the moving aircraft as part of the ‘Yelville Turkey Trot’ – a 50-year-old event in Arkansas which sees huge crowds gather to watch the spectacle, and chase the birds as they fall.

A number of campaigners – including Motley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee – have complained, saying the practice is extremely cruel.

Despite this, the event for 2017 has already gone ahead, with no plans to stop it in the future.

‘Twisted ritual’

Lee wrote a letter protesting about the event, which he referred to as a ‘sick stunt’.

He added: “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.

“Arkansas offers plenty of cool outdoor gatherings that don’t rely on sadism, from the Lights of the Ozarks [in Fayetteville] and the Mountain View Bluegrass Festival to my favorite: Wild Women Wednesday at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

“If those attending the Turkey Trot want blood and guts, they can hit the Sun Valley Cinema afterward and see the newest slasher movie.”

The rules

The FAA promised to look into the event.

Following its investigations, it released a statement saying it could not investigate animal cruelty complaints.

A spokesperson said: “The investigators determined that the flights violated no regulations because the birds were dropped away from the crowds at the festival.

“FAA regulations don’t specifically deal with dropping live animals out of airplanes, so we have no authority to prohibit the practice. 

“This does not mean we endorse it.”


The Yellville Chamber of Commerce also claimed it ‘has no jurisdiction’ to stop the event.

While the organization is reported to sponsor the whole event (the Turkey Trot), it claims the Turkey Drop is ‘carried out by a third-party’ whose plane takes off outside the city limits.

A statement said: “Chamber board members, Turkey Trot sponsors, and Chamber members have absolutely no affiliation, jurisdiction, or control over what any individual does in his or her private plane in the air.

“We do not appreciate the residents of our area being threatened, their families being threatened, or the hateful language directed towards them.

“We do not see the good that comes from threatening a living being in the name of another living being.”


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Maria Chiorando

Maria is a news and features writer for Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. She was previously the editor of Plant Based News for over 3 years.