People nowadays entertain themselves in the strangest ways. Some visit a beach and instead of laying out to tan or playing some beach volleyball, spend their time yanking marine animals out of the ocean for selfies. Some people spend their summer planning out and participating in festivals that kill hundreds of marine animals, and even promote it as an event for “conservation.” And in Arkansas, this month, a man by the name of Dana Woods will fly around in a single-engine airplane, while his cousins fling turkeys out of it, all for the sake of a festival where families will get a chance to chase, catch, and kill the birds. Oh, and it’s all perfectly legal.
We know what you’re thinking – what kind of bizarre town is this? Or maybe you’re thinking “what time century are we in?” These are some valid questions. Sadly, we must report that this is, in fact, a thing and it takes place in Yellville, Arkansas at the annual Turkey Trot Festival. According to Woods, the birds “can fly a long way” and seem to glide to a landing. Then, once they’re on the ground, they are chased and kept as hunting trophies, pets, or used as dinner during the holiday season.
While we have some doubts about just how easy it is for these birds to land and how “graceful” it is for them, to argue about the safety of this event, would be to accept its absurdity, which we definitely do not.
We didn’t think we had to point it out, but just because bird have wings and can fly, that doesn’t mean you should just drop them out of the sky and force them to out of fear. Secondly, the entire ideology of this festival is based around the idea that turkeys are simply objects or toys that exist for our entertainment instead of the living, breathing, feeling animals that they are. Not only is this a cruel act for adults to participate in, but it’s incredibly irresponsible to teach children that this is okay. It reinforces the thinking that animals exist on Earth simply for our own use and gives children a warped perception of how our relationship with animals should be. With events like this in existence, it only becomes harder for children to realize how similar animals are to us, how deserving they are of respect, and that they are not ours to use for anything, be it medication, food, or entertainment.
Unfortunately, Woods doesn’t seem to see a problem in the festival at all, having the audacity to claim that the act should not be construed as abuse. “We treat the turkeys right. That may sound ironic, but we don’t abuse those turkeys. We coddle and pet those turkeys. We’re good to them.” Woods said in an interview with Arkansas Online. While the act of dropping the turkeys out of the plane is not technically illegal because Woods and his team are not dropping the birds over a crowd, it is without a doubt, abuse.
People are not staying silent about this issue, though. For as long as the festival has been held, there has been public outcry from animal welfare activists. Gemma Vaughan, an animal-cruelty caseworker with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) even spoke out, saying the “turkey drop is a throwback to a sorry time when human beings were bone ignorant of animals’ feelings.” According to Vaughan, PETA is even offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any participant for a violation of law, “including the destruction of personal property, as a turkey plummets to the ground.”
Despite all of the concern from the public, Woods and his team do not seem perturbed at all and will move forward with the event. If you’re as disturbed by this event as we are, share this article to spread awareness and let Yellville know you don’t think this is an appropriate way to treat an animal!
Image source: Kaitlyn Schwers