With Turkey Day coming this week, this news may come as a shock. Animal activists have been up in arms for some time over an infamous event held each year at the Turkey Trot festival in Yellville, Arkansas. Yellville’s Turkey Drop involves throwing live turkeys from a plane – from 500 feet up – while the locals then madly chase after and try to catch the birds that survive the scary experience. It’s been going on for some 50 years or more, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finds no violations – and indeed has no specific rules – relating to the event, possibly because they never thought they’d need them.

Dropping live turkeys from aircraft is not prohibited

The Huffington Post quotes an FAA spokesman as saying their regulations don’t actually prohibit the dropping of live animals – or in this case turkeys – from planes, most likely because authors of the regulations never really anticipated a need for such an explicit prohibition. However the spokesman did add that this does not mean they endorse the practice.

Heavy metal rocker against turkey cruelty

That spokesman is not the only one who doesn’t endorse the cruel event. The latest Turkey Drop event was held in Yellville on October 14, which has led Tommy Lee – well known animal welfare activist and heavy metal rocker from the band Motley Crue – to try to put a stop to the practice.

Lee has in the past been involved in trying to stop the Running of the Bulls event in Pamplona, Spain, among other cruel animal-related events.

Lee sent a letter this week to the Mayor of Yellville, Shawn Lane, about the brutal Turkey Drop, saying he has met some wild Arkansans in the past while touring there with his band and he believed he had heard it all.

However, he only recently heard from his friends at PETA about the Turkey Drop, held each year at Yellville’s Turkey Trot festival, and he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He said the ritual is something that even the “most deranged headbanger” couldn’t have come up with, saying he is adding his voice to thousands of animal activists to ask the town to stop the sick event.

'Family-friendly' event in Yellville, Arkansas

The Turkey Trot fall festival covers a range of "family-friendly" events, but the Turkey Drop is the one catching animal activists’ ire. The Arkansas-Democrat Gazette reports that in 2016, a dozen turkeys faced the 500 foot drop from the plane and two were killed on impact. At this year’s event, while several turkeys faced the grueling drop from the plane, apparently none of them died. However even if they do survive, animal activists point to the noise of the plane, and then the grueling drop itself, which must be terrifying for the turkeys.

Turkeys are dropped in a ‘safe place’ (for humans, anyway)

Getting back to the FAA regulations, the spokesman continued by telling the Huffington Post that these only cover dropping “objects” from planes and specify conditions where things can be dropped, while assuming they will pose no danger to property or people on the ground.

When investigators looked into the Turkey Drop, they established the pilot was dropping the poor birds over a park and creek that was well clear of the crowds of people attending the festival.

According to the spokesman the only ones likely to address animal cruelty issues would be local and state officials, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen soon. The Democrat-Gazette quotes Marion County Sheriff Clinton Evans as saying the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney is not pursuing any charges relating to last month’s Turkey Drop. Sorry, turkeys, it’s going to happen again next year at the Turkey Trot festival in Yellville, Arkansas.