The tradition of dropping turkeys has existed in Yellville, Arkansas, for more than half a century as part of the annual Turkey Trot. The event features an anonymous pilot, dubbed by locals "The Phantom Pilot," who drops live flightless birds from a plane about 150 meters (500 feet) above a creek near the town square, with festival-goers below trying to catch them. However, the poor birds often crash onto buildings, cars and the street. In 2016, 12 turkeys were reportedly dropped during the event, and two of them died. This year, there were no reports of bird deaths.
Tommy Lee, the drummer and co-founder of the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe, who is also a well-known animal-welfare activist, sent a letter to Yellville Mayor Shawn Lane calling for an end to the "turkey drop."
"…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," the musician wrote in his letter, as quoted by PETA.
"Arkansas offers plenty of cool outdoor gatherings that don't rely on sadism… If those attending the Turkey Trot want blood and guts, they can hit the Sun Valley Cinema afterward and see the newest slasher movie," he added.
However, the FAA did not find any violations of the law in the tradition of dropping turkeys from an airplane.
"FAA regulations do not specifically prohibit dropping live animals from aircraft, possibly because the authors of the regulation never anticipated that an explicit prohibition would be necessary," an FAA spokesman told HuffPost. "This does not mean we endorse the practice."
Thousands of shocked internet users join petitions against the Arkansas' turkey-throwing tradition and expressed their anger on Twitter.
Sometimes I don't feel like I belong in this world or at least to the human species. Did you know there's an annual “turkey drop” in Yellville, Arkansas where they drop live turkeys from aircraft 500 feet in the air and then chase the survivors? WTF?!— 👑 OTEP SHAMAYA 👑 (@otepofficial) 19 ноября 2017 г.
Call the Marion County Sheriff at 870-449-4236 to demand that this end, and share this image on Facebook and Twitter. Ask Arkansas State Tourism why it allows this to happen and let it know that you won’t be visiting the state until the “turkey drop" is permanently ended. pic.twitter.com/ywI0uF8Zyu— shaun figueiredo (@shaun_figo) 20 ноября 2017 г.
So this turkey drop bullshit is still going on in Arkansas where these sick and horrible people throw live turkeys out of planes and off of buildings for their own personal entertainment and cheap disgusting thrills. PLEASE HELP STOP THIS!!! 🦃https://t.co/4JNfGm2rgN pic.twitter.com/4vLzacnnpu— Misfit1016 (@sunsetcoastcand) 18 ноября 2017 г.
Don't support Arkansas Turkey Drop, this is animal cruelty!!!— Judy Judy Judy (@nothego) 18 ноября 2017 г.