YELLVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Federal Aviation Administration investigators said a festival in northwestern Arkansas did not break any rules when it tossed live turkeys from an airplane.
The annual Turkey Trot festival was held last weekend in Yellville, which is about 90 miles north of Little Rock. One turkey died Friday and another died Saturday upon hitting the ground, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.
Most of the turkeys dropped on Friday were able to open their wings and glide to a landing, while the turkey that died appeared to try and flap its wings instead. Wild turkeys have the ability to fly up to 55 mph, however they normally fly between treetops at a height of less than 100 feet. The festival turkeys were dropped from a height over 600 feet.
FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said an investigator who attended the event Friday didn’t witness any rule violations. Lunsford says it’s legal to drop objects from airplanes if there isn’t any risk of injuring property or humans on the ground.
Animal-welfare groups have condemned the 50-year-old tradition and called on the FAA to rethink its regulations.
“If the Federal Aviation Administration agent thinks that a human being has to be hurt or someone’s property has to be damaged before the agency can take action, then PETA suggests that the agency needs to think harder: A plane dropped live turkeys out of the sky, causing the death of two frightened birds -- who, sadly enough, were indeed someone’s property, and we promise that there will be repercussions,” said Stephanie Bell, senior director of cruelty casework at PETA.
Lunsford says the agency doesn’t have jurisdiction over animal-cruelty concerns.