2012-06-01 / Top Stories

Birds Of A Feather Get Killed Together

Government Plan To Knock Off 7 JFK Species
By Howard Schwach

On one hand, there is a new U.S. Department of Agriculture plan to allow Wildlife Services staffers to kill off several species of birds that create a hazard to aviation at John F. Kennedy near Jamaica Bay, using a radius of five miles from JFK as a yardstick, a yardstick that includes all of Rockaway with the exception of Breezy Point.

On the other hand, there is a multimillion dollar federal program to restore the wetlands in Jamaica Bay and to bring back the wetland habitats that favor migratory birds.

The Wildlife Service says that the bird kills are necessary to combat the growing number of potentially deadly bird strikes of planes departing the airport.

Among the species targeted for extinction around the airport are Canada Geese, Mute Swans, Doublecrested Cormorants, blackbirds, European Starlings, crows and Rock Pigeons.

Proponents of the program say that statistics show 257 bird strikes at JFK in 2011 compared with only 127 in 2005.

Broad Channel resident Don Riepe, the local president of the American Littoral Society, told Vera Chinese of the Daily News that he understood the problem but was opposed to the plan to kill all of the birds.

“I understand the need to manage some of these species, but I would like to see an equal amount of effort put into preservation,” he said.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has called for bypassing the environmental impact study required by law and to kill all of the Canada Geese within five miles of the airport during their molting period this summer.

Gillibrand said in a prepared statement that she had worked with Gateway National Recreation Area, which owns most of the bay, and the Agriculture Department to craft her bill.

She said that such measures are necessary to insure safe airways.

“We can take the steps necessary to protect millions of air passengers every day while preserving the natural beauty of this national park for future generations,” the Senator said.

Naturalists are not buying it, however.

“Would somebody say we are going to kill all the bears in Yellowstone Park because some are dangerous,” the naturalist asked.

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