POLL: Should the tradition of throwing wild turkeys from a plane be allowed?

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For over 50 years, it’s been a tradition at the annual Yellville Turkey Trot festival in for a plane flown by someone only known as the “Phantom Pilot” to fly about 1,000 feet over the crowd and drop live turkeys to the ground. Festival-goers then chase and catch the turkeys – the ones that survive and can still walk, that is.

Thanks to complaints from PETA and others appalled by this cruel stunt, festival sponsors stopped sanctioning the turkey drop. No live birds were tossed from planes at the Turkey Trot festivals from 2012 to 2014. People who didn’t want turkeys to suffer were glad this cruel tradition had finally come to an end.

Or had it? Once again, live turkeys were dropped from a plane at last year’s Turkey Trot, and again at this year’s festival, held earlier this month.

Photo credit: Click Images

PETA members were on hand this year to save some of the injured birds.

“We rescued four turkeys — one who was trussed by his legs and tossed onto the concrete where he lay panting as spectators walked over him, and another found bleeding from her neck and legs,” Gemma Vaughan, a PETA animal-cruelty caseworker, told Arkansas Online.

Rosie Hilliard, a local activist, has filed a formal complaint with the Yellville sheriff’s office, alleging the pilot terrorized the birds and violated state laws.

And now, for the first time, the Associated Press reports that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is investigating the turkey drop to see if it broke any laws — but not in regard to animal cruelty, since it isn’t the agency’s jurisdiction.

The reason the FAA has not been involved in the past is because the turkeys aren’t considered to be projectiles. Objects can legally be dropped from planes as long as they don’t injure people or damage property on the ground. “FAA regulations don’t specifically deal with dropping live animals out of airplanes, so we have no authority to prohibit the practice,” FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford told Arkansas Online.

However, he added, “This does not mean we endorse it.”

Like many locals who attend the Turkey Trot festival, Dana Woods, who was the Phantom Pilot for 15 years, sees nothing wrong with what he did. “All those ‘bird-loving’ people” have misplaced priorities, he told Arkansas Online. The turkeys can fly, he said. They can spread their wings and glide to the ground.

Last year, Woods dropped a dozen turkeys from his plane. Two were killed on impact.

It’s true that wild turkeys can fly, but it’s usually “from treetop to treetop, at an altitude of less than 100 feet,” ArkansasOnline reports. “Woods said last year that the turkeys were released at an altitude of 600 to 700 feet over the creek.”

That altitude alone would be enough to frighten the turkeys, Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton, a professor of poultry science at the University of Arkansas, told Arkansas Online. The expert said the turkey drop was a “horrific act of abuse.”

It’s time for the Phantom Pilot to stop making an appearance at the Yellville Turkey Trot to commit this horrific act. Please join more than 90,000 others who have signed and shared this petition telling Marion County Sheriff Clinton Evans to stop allowing turkeys to be thrown from a plane.

This article was first published by Care2.com on 24 Oct 2017.

We invite you to share your opinion whether the tradition of throwing wild turkeys from a plane should be allowed? Please vote and leave your comments at the bottom of this page.

Should the tradition of throwing wild turkeys from a plane be allowed?

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Editorial Comment: The purpose of this poll is to highlight important wildlife conservation issues and to encourage discussion on ways to stop . By leaving a comment and sharing this post you can help to raise awareness. Thank you for your support.


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Benji Nicholas

What the hell kind of people consider this shit “entertaining”

Yuqin Luan

i voted yes by mistake because the questions are usually “… be banned”, i pressed yes before reading the whole sentence which ends “… allowed”, I’m wondering others may have made the same mistake. Sorry about this, i definitely vote “No” if i can change the vote.

Jackie Baxter
Jackie Baxter
Margie Yntema

cruel. how could you enjoy this behaviour.

Susan Baskett

What sickos voted yes for christ sake, they cant fly thanks to humans

Anita Man
Anita Man

How about we drop these cruel dumb ass pilots and spectators from the plan instead, then I bet they’ll be bitching about it! This is a disgusting and cruel thing to do to any living animal!

Carole Kramer
Carole Kramer

No way! So cruel, inhumane and barbaric.


NO ! This is cruel and barbaric

Paul Troalic

One half of the world is helping animals whilst the other half is intent of using them as instruments of fun. Come on just stop this insanity.

Naveen Chilakapati


Thomas Martin

Really, I think they should throw the organizers of this stupid event out of the airplane. This is just plain stupid and what does it tell our children. Many humans are just stupider than stupids are stupid.

Desiree Johnson

Hell NO!

Amira St Johns

Stupid trailor trash are the only one’s who think this is okay, this is sickening, barbaric, and just plain low level mentality behaivor…

Marisa Bravo


Craig Bunting

Absolutely not!

Blaženka Križan


Cindy Lee

Can we make it a tradition to shoot this plane down? The bullshit of cannot interfere with tradition is idiotic.

Janet Mitchell Hendricks

Hell NO!!! didn’t anyone watch the episode from WKRP CINCINNATI???

Maria Anna Mavromichalis

no would you throw people out of a plane? if it can’t be done for one animal it shouldn’t be done for another !!!!!!!!!!!!

Christine Queen


Anna S. Borgquist

No! Never!

Susan Gordon

never heard of that one

Susan Gordon


Linda Badham
Linda Badham

Are all these people backward ? who can get pleasure from such sick behaviour must be

Evelyn Ball

Really makes me wonder about some of our species when they think dropping a live bird or animal for a plane to entertain other stupid humans is acceptable. Maybe they should toss some humans instead. How about all those idiots who think it’s fine for the turkeys??

Louise Le Riche Rogers

I agree, Cheryl!!

Diana Moore

anybody who said yes is fucked in the head and let’s throw YOU out of a fucking plane!!

JD Creager

I have been so your point is moot, like the fat cow you are.

Amira St Johns

JD Creager Your calling who a fat cow? Have you met yourself??? Twisted demented fucktard!

Susan Ifland

Voted NO!

Phyllis Rygh


Patricia Stover


Kimberly Jane Rodgers



This is horrible – how can people think it is a sport to tie up the turkey’s legs and wings and then drop them from a small plane at 1000 feet? The ones that survive but are in terrible pain – try to get up and run while the rotten people chase them – This is too horrible to even think of – It is a bad mark on Arkansas to think they allow this torture of innocent birds – shame on them, on the state and the FAA for allowing the turkeys to be dropped from planes! It needs… Read more »

Debby Lindsay

This is one of the most abusive thing I have ever heard of! Evil abounds! and who ever voted yes, maybe try it out for youself (being thrown from a plane) and come back and vote again..if you can.

Chile Chez O

F*CKED up!

Michelle Jones

Voted, definite NO so bloody cruel

Pat Miller Sudderth

Absolutely not!!!

Janell Morris Cooper


Melissa Savage

They cant fly why is this done

Cheryl George

How disgusting! Why the hell throw them out of a plane. These are living beings that feel pain and emotion just as we do. I think that the people that do this should be thrown out of the plane instead.

Suzy Devaux

vraiment débile

Jacky Alan Cockram

Only sub humans would want to that. Voted no

Tierra Chapman

George Bernard Shaw said, “Custom will reconcile people to ANY atrocity,” and based on my observations, I think it’s the most profoundly true statement ever spoken regarding human behavior, which is an unfortunate reality for so many innocent beings on our one shared planet, in this instance, Wild Turkeys. Who, in their right mind and heart, would find think it fun and experience pleasure in brutalizing and watching ANY animal suffer? We are well into the 21st century and yet, we are long overdue to leave the Dark Ages and put a high priority on kindness to all non-human beings.… Read more »

JD Creager

The only abuse was when the leaf lickers tried to pull the turkeys from the childrens hands. YEs the bunny huggers were abusing small children that cught the birds.

Adriana Noemi Antonello

Ya firmado

Rita Gonzalez Palmeiro

No, animal cruelty should never be aloud, whatever was done in the past was wrong, we supposedly should be more civilized today, traditional abuse is not acceptable.

Mary Fisher


Arlene Labbe

Arkansas STOP IT NOW!!!

Carolina Nunes

NO NO NO!!!!

Dixie Shelton



The problem is: they don’t throw WILD turkeys from the planes – they throw domesticated birds! Wild turkeys can & DO fly! Domesticated birds are bred to be so large, the ability to fly is questionable. BIG difference. I’m definitely NOT say they should continue to do this & use wild turkeys – its wrong by any definition. If that’s what amuses someone? They apparently have no empathy for other living creatures.


Have to add – is this guy really saying he goes out in the woods and captures wild turkeys? Doubtful!

Sheila Dunleavy