- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 13, 2015

YELLVILLE, Ark. (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the release of wild turkeys from a plane during an event in northern Arkansas, an agency spokesman said.

The birds were dropped Saturday during the 70th annual Turkey Trot festival in Yellville. Marion County Judge Terry Ott said he saw five or six turkeys fall from a plane, and they all landed safely.

The festival had a flyover turkey drop for more than 50 years, but they had stopped in 2011 after a flap with the FAA and complaints from animal welfare groups. Turkeys have been dropped from buildings or a stage since then, and Ott said three were dropped from the Marion County Courthouse roof on Saturday.

FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said in an email Monday that agency regulations bar dropping objects from planes “that can endanger people or property on the ground.” He said those objects “include nearly flightless large birds.”

A central issue of the debate over dropping wild turkeys is whether they can fly, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1MwPfyH ) reports.

F. Dustan Clark, a Cooperative Extension Service poultry health veterinarian with the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, said in an email that wild turkeys “fly well.”

“I understand they can fly a quarter of a mile or so,” he said.

Yellville Area Chamber of Commerce executive director Lesley Edmonds said she “didn’t have anything to do with” the turkeys dropped out of the plane. She said she saw one or two turkeys “released” from a plane.

“Our function is to put on a festival,” Edmonds said. “The weather cooperated, and we had great attendance.”


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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