2012-06-08 / Editorial/Opinion

Need Some Balance On Bay Bird Kills

For more than a decade, officials at both JFK and LaGuardia Airports have been trying to keep birds off their runways and adjacent departure zones. For a time, they tried poison. They tried firing noise cannons all night long (much to the distress of Bayswater and Broad Channel residents) and catching the birds, deporting them to less dangerous areas. Now, having failed in everything else they tried, they are going for draconian. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Gateway National Recreation Area (which controls much of the bay) have come up with a plan to kill several species of birds that happen to wander within a five mile radius of JFK Airport – including large chunks of Rockaway. The feds say that the bird kills are necessary because bird strikes are dangerous to aircraft and that the number of bird strikes has increased over past years, to 257 last year from 127 in 2005. The feds are moving quickly. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has proposed a law that would allow for bypassing the mandated environmental impact process in order to move right away to kill all of the Canada Geese in the impact area without further study because, she says, the summer months are the best time to kill them. Environmentalists are opposed to the plan. Some say that killing all of the birds indiscriminately is like killing all the bears at Yellowstone National Park because one or two are dangerous. Broad Channel resident Don Riepe, the president of the local chapter of the Littoral Society, said it best. “I understand the need to manage some of these species,” he said. “I would like to see an equal amount of effort put into preservation.” We agree. Manage the bird population to reduce the risk of collision, but don’t kill off thousands of birds to remediate a problem that does not call for that draconian solution.

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