Does Killing Birds Make Airports Safer?
After a flock of Canada geese knocked out the engines of a US Airways jetliner in January 2009, pilot “Sully” Sullenberger was famously able to safely land the Airbus A320 on the Hudson River. What became known as the “Miracle on the Hudson” was happy news, especially for the 155 passengers whose lives Sullenberger saved.
But it was terrible news for geese and other birds that migrate or make their homes near the three major airports in the New York City area. To prevent a similar incident from happening again, nearly 70,000 birds have been intentionally killed near John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports over the past eight years, the Associated Press reports.
The birds have either been shot by wildlife officials, or trapped first and then shot. The number of birds slaughtered includes approximately 35,000 European starlings, 28,000 seagulls, 6,000 brown-headed cowbirds, 4,500 mourning doves and 1,830 Canada geese.
Birds strike planes near these airports on a daily basis, the AP reports. The damage most often is to the birds, not to the planes or their passengers. From 2004 to April 2016, 249 birds damaged airplanes, according to Federal Aviation Administration data cited by the AP. Those birds included 54 seagulls, 12 osprey, 11 double-crested cormorants, 30 geese and 69 unknown species.
The first reported bird strike happened in 1905, when Orville Wright’s plane hit a bird over an Ohio cornfield. Since 1988, over 250 people have died as a result of birds striking planes.
Before the “Miracle on the Hudson,” JFK Airport already had in place what the AP called a “robust slaughter program.” The airport was built on a major migratory route for birds on the East Coast, and now the birds must pay the price.
Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Care2.
Photo credit: Don DeBold