Snowy Owls and Airports

IN THE NEWS:  Snowy Owls and Airports

snowy_owl_flying Snowy owls are coming into the US in record numbers this year, and are being seen as far south as South Carolina! If you enjoyed reading about the current irruption of Snowy owls last month in our newsletter, you might be interested in this news story.

Snowy owls like hunting for food in open areas, like airfields, and birds and jet aircraft don’t mix well.  If you saw the news story in early December about the Snowy owls at JFK airport, you may recall that the Port Authority who manages the airport, decided to kill 5 Snowy owls that were near the field, much as they do Canada geese and other birds who pose a potential safety hazard to aircraft.

Birdwatchers who had come long distances to see the owls were shocked at this decision, as Snowy owls at other airports, such as Boston’s Logan airport, are trapped and released.  Additionally, the biggest safety issue involves birds in large flocks that are sucked into jet engines and can more readily cause an accident.  Snowy owls are solitary and pose far less of a threat than do flocking birds, so this decision to shoot the owls near JFK was perceived as a bit extreme.

With the help of many NGO’s including NY Audubon and Friends of Animals, as well as many New Yorkers who contacted the Port Authority protesting this inhumane treatment, the Port Authority very quickly agreed to stop shooting the owls and provide for a non-lethal way of getting them off the field. JFK will now be safe from owl strikes and it will be done humanely.  Thanks to everyone who made their feelings about this known to the authorities.  New Yorkers don’t want owls killed!

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