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After Bird Strikes, Senator Gillibrand Seeks to Allow Goose Kills Near JFK Airport

The problem of birds living near some of the nation’s busiest airports is coming under renewed scrutiny after two emergency landings in a week and more than three years after the famous ditching of a jetliner in the Hudson River.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday proposed making it easier to round up geese from a federal refuge near Kennedy Airport and kill them, an idea that’s meeting opposition from wildlife advocates.

A JetBlue plane bound for West Palm Beach, Fla., made an emergency landing at Westchester County Airport on Tuesday. A Los Angeles-bound jet made an emergency landing at Kennedy Airport after a bird strike on the right engine a week ago.

Gillibrand’s bill would empower the U.S. Department of Agriculture to remove Canada geese from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge during June and July when they are molting and can’t fly.

“We cannot and should not wait another day to act while public safety is at risk,” the New York Democrat said in a statement.

But the idea of a goose roundup at a wildlife refuge that is part of the National Park Service has its detractors.

Birds can shatter windshields, dent fuselages and ruin engines. The issue is getting greater prominence than it has had since January 2009, when Capt. Chesley Sullenberger became a hero for successfully ditching US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River after a flock of geese hit it following takeoff from LaGuardia Airport.

Gillibrand’s legislation targets Kennedy, where bird-management programs have been in place for more than 30 years. The bill would expedite the removal of birds from parts of the wildlife refuge that are within 5 miles of the airport.


5 Responses

  1. Wow. I can’t believe a Democrat actually had a sensible idea! I hope they don’t wait for a tragedy, Chas V’shalom.

  2. If these are migratory geese, they are covered by an international treaty governing migratory birds. It will take an army of lawyers to sort it out. Fortunately for the geese, sharks generally don’t eat geese.

  3. Akuperma, if Congress passes a law authorising the kill, that overrides any treaty. Statutes and treaties rank equally, so “hilcheso kebasro’i”.

    In any case, Canada geese are no longer migratory; they have such a good life in the USA that they don’t want to leave!

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