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Home 9 Turkey Laws 9 The Right Stuff(ing)

The Right Stuff(ing)

Vector Illustration of a Happy Thanksgiving Celebration Design with Cartoon Turkey

Pardon Me

Since 1947, the National Turkey Federation has presented a turkey to the president. Every year on Thanksgiving, the president “pardons” a thoughtfully selected turkey. President Truman was the first president to pardon one lucky turkey to live the rest of his days free from “punishment,”[1] and he appropriately (or inappropriately) selected Frying Pan Park for his pardoned turkey’s new home. It is hard to imagine that Frying Pan Park is the happiest place on earth for a turkey. Perhaps this is why President Obama sent his pardoned turkey to Disneyland. This year, President Obama will celebrate the 68th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation.

Friendly Skies

For your guests who enjoy air travel or who have made plans to travel, perhaps to Frying Pan Park—there are turkey laws regulating activity from the sky. In West Virginia, it is unlawful to hunt turkeys from an airplane. It is also unlawful for you to use the drone you purchased on Black Friday to herd turkeys for the purpose of hunting. And, just so you can cover all of your bases during your stay in West Virginia, you should know that it is illegal to hunt, take or pursue a turkey with the use of a ferret. (Sorry to ruin your hunting strategy this year.)

Bird Gang

You are not likely to find a “gang”[2] of turkeys in Tucson or Nogales, for these Arizona cities prohibit turkeys from “running at large.” Further, in Hayden, Arizona, it is unlawful to keep your gang of turkeys within 35 feet of any door, window or opening in any dwelling or residence of any person other than the owner. Perhaps this is because Turkeys are fast, and have a top running speed of 25 miles per hour. You would be wise to keep your turkeys at the statutory distance of 35 feet to keep your turkey from running into your neighbor’s house and becoming the main course at their Thanksgiving table.

Under Arizona Revised Statute § 17-309, it is unlawful to possess or transport the carcass of a turkey without a valid tag being attached. But feel free to transport your store-bought carcass anywhere you please. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price per pound of your store-bought turkey this Thanksgiving is $1.56 per pound. But, the price you pay for your turkey from the store will always beat the $500 price you pay in civil liability for unlawfully taking or wounding a turkey in Arizona.

No Harm No Fowl

Thanksgiving Eve is one of the largest and busiest “bar nights” of the year. In fact, Thanksgiving weekend has been reported to have more DUI crashes than New Year’s Eve. Therefore, if you choose to go out and celebrate with family and friends, be sure to designate a sober turkey to keep yourselves and others safe on the roads this Thanksgiving weekend.

However, most of all, whether you serve up the infamous turkey, or opt for a nontraditional dish such as tofu, Lamber-Goodnow sends our best wishes for a wonderful holiday filled with family and thanksgiving.


[1] The president’s pardoning power under Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution grants the president the authority to remove an individual’s penalties and/or punishments.

[2] A group of turkeys can be described as a “crop,” “dole,” “gang,” “posse” and “raffle.”

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