Yellville, Arkansas, we need to have a talk.

Your annual Yellville Turkey Trot has included a barbaric turkey drop for more than five decades, and it needs to stop. Event sponsors in recent years have distanced themselves from the practice. They may not sanction the action of turkeys being dropped out of a plane, but they certainly don’t make an earnest effort to try and stop it, at least in our view.

We call that cowardice down here in the Delta.

Several birds were dropped last Saturday and then chased by festival-goers below. Several were injured, and several reportedly died.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it will check to see whether any laws or regulations were broken when a low-flying pilot dropped live turkeys onto the festival. Yellville-area animal rights activist Rose Hilliard wants criminal charges filed against the pilot, and we agree.

While we are certainly not against harvesting animals for food, we are vehemently against any act of animal cruelty. We believe that all life is sacred, and that animals whose meat we devour should be killed with respect in mind.

What happens in Yellville each year is animal abuse. Turkeys have limited flight capabilities. Many of the turkeys dropped from the airplane are crippled or killed.

Hillard alleges the pilot “terrorized” the birds and violated state laws against animal cruelty and animal abandonment.

Again, we agree.

An FAA spokesman told the Associated Press that the agency was aware of the weekend flyover. In the past, the FAA hasn’t intervened because the birds aren’t considered projectiles. We question: How can this be? A 12-pound bird being dropped from a plane isn’t a projectile?

If the birds were dead when they were dropped, the pilot could probably be cited for littering — maybe, maybe not. But dropping live animals from a plane is apparently perfectly legal under FAA guidelines. What a joke. If you throw a coke can out of your car, it’s a huge fine if you are caught. But killing animals by dropping them from a plane is perfectly fine.

Farm Sanctuary, America’s leading farm animal protection organization, recently issued the following statement regarding the Yellville Turkey Trot:

“We condemn the callous disregard for life once again on display as part of the Yellville Turkey Trot. Thanks to representatives from PETA, four of the turkeys who survived the egregiously cruel ‘turkey drop,’ John, Paul, George and Ringo, are coming to Farm Sanctuary, where they will receive all the love, kindness and veterinary care they need to recover from this hideous ordeal and live a happy life. Turkeys are smart, curious, emotional animals who enjoy receiving affection from humans just as much as dogs and cats do, and they deserve the same respect and consideration.”

Hey, Yellville, put a stop to this practice. You are better than this. You are currently embarrassing yourselves and the rest of us here in Arkansas. Do the right thing.

Stop torturing turkeys.


Pine Bluff