Snowy Owls at NYC Airports Were Unfazed by Other Scare Methods: Port Authority

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013  |  Updated 9:00 AM EDT
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The agency that oversees New York’s airports has added snowy owls to its no-fly list, shooting down at least two at Kennedy Airport and issuing an alert to kill any more that are spotted there, an airport source told NBC 4 New York. Marc Santia reports.

NBC 4 New York

The agency that oversees New York’s airports has added snowy owls to its no-fly list, shooting down at least two at Kennedy Airport and issuing an alert to kill any more that are spotted there, an airport source told NBC 4 New York. Marc Santia reports.

The agency that oversees New York's airports says it tried other methods of scaring away snowy owls from its airports before issuing the shoot-to-kill order for the birds.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey has promised a new effort to trap and relocate the growing number of snowy owls at the city's airports, but said it was initially forced to shoot down three birds when other methods failed to scare them away. 

A total of five planes were hit by snowy owls in the last two weeks, including two at Newark, two at Kennedy and one at LaGuardia, according to the Port Authority. The agency tried using pyrotechnics, setting off fireworks and driving toward the birds to scare them away. However, snowy owls do not like to move and were apparently unfazed, the agency said. 

The agency added that it is not allowed to move wildlife in New York state without permission, which was only granted Monday from the Department of Environment Conservation. That's when the Port Authority announced it will make an effort to trap the snowy owls and relocate them instead of shooting them down. 

Authority workers shot down one snowy owl at Kennedy Airport last Friday, and another two on Saturday.

It wasn’t the first time the Port Authority has killed birds over flight concerns. More than 1,000 geese were caught and gassed near Rikers Island between 2003 and 2009 to curb the potential threat to aircraft, according to the Daily News.

A commercial jet hit a goose upon takeoff in 2009, forcing the plane to land on the Hudson River in what was referred to as the Miracle on the Hudson. That brought renewed focus on the threat of bird strikes, and about 2,000 geese were rounded up and killed that year.

Hundreds have since been killed each year near airports and in parks throughout the city.

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