The annual, reasonably disgraceful tradition of an “anonymous” pilot dropping live turkeys from hundreds of feet in the air in Yellville, Arkansas, continued this fall, with several birds dropped on Oct. 14. The FAA said then they were looking into it, but it conceded to HuffPost on Saturday that there was nothing they could do to stop it.
Officials say the event, which is known locally as the “turkey drop,” is out of their control, because the pilot doesn’t appear to be breaking any state or local laws. The FAA told HuffPost they examined their own statutes relating to the matter and came to the same conclusion.
The FAA spokesman explained to HuffPost that the agency has no power when it comes to animal welfare issues.
“Our regulations only cover ‘objects,’ and specify that they can be dropped from aircraft as long as they don’t pose a danger to people or property on the ground,” he said. “In this case, investigators determined that the pilot did not violate FAA safety regulations because the turkeys were dropped over a creek and a park, well away from crowds at the festival.”
The turkey drop has been happening for at least 50 years; according to The Baxter Bulletin, twelve turkeys were dropped in 2016, with two, “failing to slow their descent and dying upon impact.” Festival attendees chased down and claimed the surviving birds. Here’s some video from that drop:
As someone who purchased a frozen turkey on Sunday that probably had a short, cruel life punctuated by a trip to a bloody abattoir, I’m not really in a position to be advocating for turkey rights, but I will say that I don’t support tossing live turkeys out of planes. Stop tossing live turkeys out of your airplane. Thank you.