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story.lead_photo.caption 2016 FILE PHOTO: A turkey is dropped from a 1959 Cessna 182B airplane during the annual Turkey Trot in downtown Yellville. - Photo by Jason Ivester

An investigator for the Federal Aviation Administration saw no violations Friday when six live turkeys were tossed from an airplane over Crooked Creek, two blocks south of the downtown Yellville square, where the annual Turkey Trot festival was held.

Gallery: 2016 Turkey Trot festival features turkeys thrown from plane

One of those turkeys died on impact.

"Our investigator saw no violations of FAA regulations during the event," said Lynn Lunsford, a spokesman for the FAA in Fort Worth.

The annual festival was Friday and Saturday. Lunsford said the investigator attended only on Friday.

[PHOTOS: Turkeys dropped from plane during 2016 Turkey Trot festival]

RAW VIDEO: Turkey Trot festival turkey drop

(By Bill Bowden)
[View Full-Size]

According to an article in The Baxter Bulletin of Mountain Home, four more turkeys were dropped Saturday and one of those died.

After the birds are tossed from the plane, people chase the surviving turkeys. Some of them become pets. Others become dinner.

Lunsford said it's legal to drop objects from airplanes as long as there is no risk of injuring people or property on the ground. He said the FAA has no jurisdiction over animal-cruelty concerns.

The airplane that dropped the turkeys Friday is registered to Dana Woods, a Mountain View alderman. Woods said last week that he has flown the plane for the turkey drop about 15 times, taking a hiatus from 2012 to 2014.

The airplane turkey drops have taken place for about 50 years. The festival began in 1946.

In a text message, Woods said he wasn't surprised at the FAA investigator's finding. Woods said he flew the plane at an altitude of 600 to 700 feet Friday to make sure he was above the 500 feet required by the FAA.

When asked if the release of turkeys would continue from his airplane at next year's festival, he didn't respond.

Most of the turkeys that were dropped Friday fell straight down for a while before apparently getting their bearings and opening their wings, which allowed them to glide to a landing. The bird that died appeared to be trying to flap its wings instead.

Barb Klug, a volunteer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, gathered the dead turkey. She said a necropsy by a veterinarian indicated it died of a fracture of the distal point of the keel bone.

Lunsford said the FAA received about seven complaints to its hotline because of the turkey drop. He said there was no written report of the investigation, just observations.

Stephanie Bell, senior director of cruelty casework at PETA, said the FAA should 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," Bell said.

Wild turkeys can fly at speeds up to 55 mph, but they usually fly from treetop to treetop at an height of less than 100 feet.

Metro on 10/13/2016

Print Headline: Turkey tosser followed rules, FAA says; PETA vows ‘repercussions’ after 2 birds plummeted to deaths in Yellville

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Archived Comments

  • Reason
    October 13, 2016 at 5:22 a.m.

    Torturing animals for entertainment is sick and barbaric. And scheduling an event so that children can learn how to enjoy torturing animals... Sick people!

  • CompleteBiasedPOV
    October 13, 2016 at 8:19 a.m.

    PETA is not a governing association so they need to stop threatening people. How can they hand down "repercussions"? While I don't really agree with dropping turkeys from a plane, it also is none of my business. Additionally, I have spent a lot of time in "the woods" and have never seen a turkey fly from treetop to treetop...only treetop to ground or ground to treetop. There may be some misunderstanding since when they fly (usually only to avoid danger) they stay below the tops of the trees.

  • Anon74
    October 13, 2016 at 8:57 a.m.

    Wait! They had to perform an autopsy on the turkey that was tossed out of a plane and crashed into the earth to determine the cause of death?

  • Morebeer
    October 13, 2016 at 9:24 a.m.

    PETA could file a complaint with the local prosecuting attorney, forcing him to at least look at the facts and determine whether the animal cruelty law applies. What does Arkansas' law say? "A person commits a misdemeanor if he or she knowingly abandons any animal , subjects any animal to cruel mistreatment, fails to supply an animal in his or her custody with a sufficient quantity of wholesome food and water, fails to provide an animal in his or her custody with adequate shelter, kills or injures any animal belonging to another without legal privilege or consent of the owner, or carries an animal in or upon any motorized vehicle or boat in a cruel or inhumane manner." (That's a summary from West's)
    I vahlunteer to serve on the jury sir.

  • Zepplin1
    October 13, 2016 at 10:49 a.m.

    regardless if you consider this turkey drop cruel or not (which it is btw), it's definitely immature, redneck, dumb bs. smart, mature people are laughing at you, not with you. morons.

  • susan918crosbygmailcom
    October 13, 2016 at 11:51 a.m.

    First of all PETA should butt out. They are a leader in being cruel to animals and records show this. Second, as someone else pointed out, PETA is not a government agency they are just a loud mouthed group of radicals that, on paper, value an animals life over that of everything else, including humans.

  • Morebeer
    October 13, 2016 at 12:29 p.m.

    You got a lot wrong there, Susan. Any citizen who feels aggrieved can file a complaint with the prosecuting attorney's office, which investigate to see if a prosecutable offense occurred. Also, PETA values all life. It's supporters have come to the conclusion that life is the same in all sentient beings, and just because we have the biggest brains, that doesn't make our lives more valuable. What makes our lives "more valuable" are the laws passed to make it so, which also allow for the killing of animals. Think of PETA folks as people who have evolved beyond you. At any rate, one doesn't have to have PETA's conscience to see something's wrong with throwing domesticated turkey's out of an airplane to entertain the Yellville yahoos. Prosecutor, do your job.

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