While it's understandable that birds have to be removed (read: killed) at airports in order to prevent plane crashes, the actual number of our feathered shot at JFK may surprise you. According to DNAinfo New York almost 26,000 birds were killed by contractors over the last five years. That is a lot of dead birds! What's more, 1,628 were protected species. Oops.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was originally given license to shoot seagulls, geese, and mourning doves—species named on a "kill permit" issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service. While it's true that many of those birds were killed, contractors also went H.A.M. on pretty-much anything with feathers.
According to DNAinfo:
But the authority's own records show that between 2009 and 2013, they killed 1,628 birds from 18 different species that are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and are not named on the permits.
That list includes snowy egrets, red-winged blackbirds and American kestrels.
"It appears they will kill anything they see and they don't think twice about it," said Jennifer Barnes, an attorney with animal advocacy group Friends of Animals which recently filed a federal lawsuit to suspend the killing of all migratory birds at Kennedy
Apparently the trigger-happy bunch at Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, who are tasked with bird control, are allowed to take into account "emergency situations" as they arise. Still, it's hard to imagine the carnage they were laying down on "brown-headed cowbird, boat-tailed grackle, common raven, American crow, fish crow and waterfowl and wading birds" couldn't somehow have been avoided. (Then again, I actually have no idea how airports work.)
Normally killing migratory birds carries a fine of $15,000 or six months in prison. It remains to be seen what repercussions face the contractors.
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