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Queens Chronicle

Controversial plan readied to kill birds

Limits bird collisions at JFK airport

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Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 10:30 am

Birds colliding with an airplane’s engine, known as bird strikes, pose a danger to humans, birds and aircraft at John F. Kennedy Airport. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) recently proposed the controversial “Bird Hazard Reduction Program: John F. Kennedy International Airport” to reduce the number of collisions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plan proposes the killing of six bird species within a five-mile radius of the airport, and one species, Canada geese, within a seven-mile radius. Gillibrand aims to allow the USDA to kill the geese within a five-mile radius.

The birds in danger of being killed are mute swans, double-crested cormorants, blackbirds, crows, rock pigeons and European starlings.

The Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, is near the airport. Don Riepe, Jamaica Bay Guardian and director of the Northeast chapter of the American Littoral Society, said the issue is a complex one.

“The airport has an effective program in place,” Riepe said. “As long as all this is regulated by the Wildlife Services, we can live with it.”

He added that the proposal is not the only concern of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. “We’re also concerned that the airport may be considering expanding into the marshes,” he said, “and that, we’re totally against.”

Riepe said the airport is much safer than it was 25 years ago, when landfills were open nearby. He said bird strikes have decreased in number, especially regarding the laughing gull.

Carol Bannerman, USDA Wildlife Services spokeswoman, said the number of resident Canada geese has increased 14-fold across the country, between 1970 and 2010. She added that New York has about as many now as the country did in 1970.

“As long as birds and planes are flying, there’s always a possibility of a wildlife strike,” Bannerman said. “These are ways to reduce the strikes and that’s what we’re trying to work on.”

The agency’s proposal can be seen on the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website, aphis.usda.gov. It will be open for public comments until Wednesday, June 13.

Welcome to the discussion.


  • sfisher posted at 12:56 pm on Tue, Jun 12, 2012.

    sfisher Posts: 1

    Has anyone noticed the irony of the two articles in this edition of the QC relating to birds? On page 26 is the discussion of the plan to kill birds and on page 28 is the piece on the efforts to save birds. I realize the species involved are different; the one, Canada geese, presents a danger to flights at JFK, while the other, peregrine falcons, is endangered. But their disposition points out the complexity of seemingly simple issues.

  • ABS posted at 10:03 pm on Thu, Jun 7, 2012.

    ABS Posts: 0

    This is pure insanity and a smokescreen for REAL problems with aviation. one look at recent news shows a spate of plane crashes with significant mortalities that have nothing to do with birds. There's a far, FAR bigger problem with mechanical failure, pilot error and under-trained or inattentive air traffic controllers. Not to mention a lot of old planes (like 30 years old) that are still flying anddue to stress fatigue, etc., should be retired.

    The bird strike problem is one that should be addressed by technology - more sensitive bird radar (and more intensive use of the Merlin bird radar system that already exists, underutilized), and re-routing flights slightly to avoid known bird migratory routes. Better pilot training would help too.

    The fact is, terrorizing the public into getting them onboard to kill birds under the phoney ruse that this is going to make them safer in the skies is an outright lie. Something Carol Bannerman does very well. This brainwashed hack could never get a job in private industry, she is only qualified to work for something corrupt and barbaric like the government. Since when has the government ever given a DAMN about the public? You really think they care about your safety in the skies or anywhere else? It's all about money in their pocket. Always was.

  • killinggeesedoesnotprotectplanes posted at 3:19 pm on Thu, Jun 7, 2012.

    killinggeesedoesnotprotectplanes Posts: 16

    Patty, I don't believe it is just Bannerman desires extinction of wildlife desirable.

    Behind Carol and the USDA is the Port Authority NYNJ.....they are so focused on finance and business anything that isn't useful to them or doesn't fit into their business plan is disposable. They don't see any sense to Jamaica Bay to start with...it's in their way.

    I think this is called corporatism - and the Occupy group got it.

  • Catbert posted at 2:59 pm on Thu, Jun 7, 2012.

    Catbert Posts: 0

    Carol Bannerman works for the USDA, which means lucrative contracts for killing birds from municipalities and localities. Bird strikes are very rare and no human fatalities ever around NYC. The USDA Wildlife Services is really a kill-for-hire agency and there has been talk of investigating this rogue agency in Congress, which would be long overdue.

  • killinggeesedoesnotprotectplanes posted at 2:52 pm on Thu, Jun 7, 2012.

    killinggeesedoesnotprotectplanes Posts: 16

    I am not sure how Carol Bannerman or PANYNJ can try to tell the naive public that killing birds will keep planes safe. The aviation industry, FAA or someone obviously think they run the world now .....well they are in for a fight because they don't. You go after birds...we go after the facts that expose your lies.

    I looked up some information on plane crashes in NY and found at one airport - JFK Airport - 800 people have been killed in plane crashes since 1960 - none of which were related to wildlife and birds. On the other hand, there have been NO fatal crashes related to birds or other wildlife.

    800 people killed at JFK since 1960 - none related to birds so tell us again how much safer it will be if you kill innocent birds??

    December 16, 1960 – a United Airlines Douglas DC-8 bound for Idlewild collided with a TWA Super Constellation bound for La Guardia; the United jet crashed in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the TWA plane on Staten Island, killing 127 people on board and five on the ground.

    March 1, 1962 – American Airlines Flight 1,[92] a Boeing 707 crashed on takeoff from Idlewild after its rudder separated from the tail. All 95 passengers and 12 crew members were killed.

    September 8, 1970 – a Trans International Airlines DC-8-63CF ferry flight to Dulles International Airport crashed on takeoff from runway 13R, killing all 11 crewmembers on board.

    December 1, 1974 – Northwest Orient Flight 6231 a Boeing 727 chartered to pick up the Baltimore Colts in Buffalo crashed near Thiells, New York. The flight departed John F. Kennedy International Airport with only the cockpit crew on board. The pitot heat was not turned on and the tube iced over during climb out making the airspeed readings unreliable. The plane stalled passing 23,000' and the crew was unable to regain control. All 3 crewmembers on board were killed.

    June 24, 1975 – Eastern Air Lines Flight 66, a Boeing 727 on final approach from New Orleans, crashed into the runway lights short of runway 22L, killing 112 passengers and crew. The cause of the crash was wind shear during a heavy thunderstorm.

    January 25, 1990 – Avianca Flight 52, a Boeing 707-321B arriving from Bogotá and Medellin, crashed at Cove Neck, Long Island, after a missed approach to runway 22L at JFK and subsequently running out of fuel. 73 passengers and crew perished. 85 survived

    November 12, 2001 – American Airlines Flight 587, an Airbus A300 crashed while en route to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. During climb, the aircraft lost most of its vertical fin due to overcontrol of the rudder while encountering wake turbulence, and crashed into the Belle Harbor neighborhood of Queens. The crash killed all 260 people on the plane and five people on the ground.

  • killinggeesedoesnotprotectplanes posted at 2:46 pm on Thu, Jun 7, 2012.

    killinggeesedoesnotprotectplanes Posts: 16

    It really doesn't matter how many geese are in the country when they are not hitting planes today any more than they did in the past. This is just a distraction tactic.

    The most pertinent fact behind the goose killing is WS gets their funding from killing contracts and it is a total conflict of interest for government agencies like APHIS and the USDA to assess wildlife hazards and have a related government agency kill the birds. They have a little monopoly going and killing Canada geese is a cash cow.

    "WS receives a limited amount of funds from the general fund of the U.S. Treasury that allows it to perform some services for the public good.

    However, WS’s funding is also based upon its ability to enter into contracts to provide services and receive reimbursement for the cost of the services. Legislation allows WS to collect this money and return it to the program rather than the general funds of the U.S. Treasury.

    Consequently, WS may enter into a cooperative service agreement with an airport operator for reimbursement of services to perform a wildlife hazard assessment on an airport."

    The USDA will also happily round up and gas a family of 7 geese from a large lake for wealthy lakefront property owners so this tells you where their head is at.

  • PattyA posted at 2:12 pm on Thu, Jun 7, 2012.

    PattyA Posts: 1

    What Carol Bannerman doesn't say is that Canada geese almost went extinct in this country during the last century.

    A circumstance that apparently she and her chums at USDA would like to see again.

    Extinction of species not only acceptable, but desirable if all these massacres of wildlife continue.

    After all, if birds cannot be safe at a Widlife Refuge, where CAN they be safe?

  • MB posted at 2:11 pm on Thu, Jun 7, 2012.

    MB Posts: 0

    Things have truly slumped to an all-time low. To even consider slaughtering birds that inhabit the areas of a wildlife preservation is beyond comprehension. They constructed an airport on a wetlands area that is located on a major migration route. It makes no sense and instead of utilizing humane, available alternatives their first reaction is to kill.

    Killing these birds is the wrong choice to make in the name of airline safety-either by the barbaric method of gassing or shipping them for hundreds of miles to a slaughterhouse, piled one on one in turkey crates only to be slaughtered is abominable. In the case of the latter, many don't survive the trip. Killing them only serves to open up an available habitat for more species to colonize.

    Citizens will no longer stand to watch their hard earned tax dollars be spent on slaughtering wildlife. In this case it is even more shocking that a wildlife refuge is in the bull's eye. We refuse to watch our parks and greenspaces turned into killing fields.

  • PattyA posted at 1:37 pm on Thu, Jun 7, 2012.

    PattyA Posts: 1

    What Carol Bannerman of USDA fails to mention is that Canada geese almost went extinct in the last century!

    And that's exactly where the current policies of rounding up and slaughtering thousands of geese from NYC parks and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge will bring the geese again in NYC.

    Bannerman apparently thinks extinction of wildlife is not only acceptable, but desired.