2012-07-13 / Top Stories

Bird Kills Begin Around JFK

By Howard Schwach

While this first kill targets 750 Canada geese, other birds, also considered a danger to aircraft departing the airport, will be “removed” from the airport area. While this first kill targets 750 Canada geese, other birds, also considered a danger to aircraft departing the airport, will be “removed” from the airport area. The bird kills within a five-mile radius of John F. Kennedy Airport, including some areas on the Rockaway peninsula, began last Monday, and will continue until more than 750 Canada geese are gone, says Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

The killing began after Gillibrand’s push to cut through bureaucratic tape and remove the geese, which, she says, pose a public safety risk to air travelers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) last week issued its final decision to adopt their final environmental impact study laying out a combination of lethal and non-lethal methods for reducing the risk of bird strikes at JFK Airport. At the same time, the Interior Department moved forward on Monday with the removal of these birds that pose a risk to public safety.

Seagulls are also a menace for aircraft Seagulls are also a menace for aircraft The announcement comes after Gillibrand pushed the USDA to expedite this final decision, and in a phone conversation, she had urged Interior Secretary Salazar to quickly issue new permits for the removal of geese from the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge immediately upon this formal acceptance of the study. The feds are now taking action today to mitigate the Canada geese during the critical molting period when they are flightless.

“We could not afford to sit back and wait for a catastrophe to occur before cutting through bureaucratic red tape between federal agencies,” said Gillibrand. “We are finally taking action to help reduce bird strikes and save lives. I thank Secretary Salazar for his leadership in moving this process forward.”

Last month, Gillibrand requested the expedited removal of 200 geese at two landfill areas along the Jamaica Bay shoreline, which the Interior Department had the existing authority to carry out and was able to complete two weeks ago. Gillibrand introduced federal legislation in May to reduce bird strikes that was adopted into the underlying 2012 Farm Bill which passed the Agriculture Committee.

With the USDA’s environmental impact study, which examines effective, safe ways to reduce bird strikes, now finalized, the Interior Department issued U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service permits needed to remove an estimated 1,000 additional geese.

The National Park Service, which manages the wildlife refuge, has cited the need for the completion of this study before allowing USDA workers to remove birds from the refuge area.

According to the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture collected 751 Canada Geese over two days this month, most of them at the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens.

The department said the geese were taken to an upstate poultry processor where they were euthanized.

Meat from the birds will be distributed to food pantries across the state.

The roundup took place following a push from New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand after several bird strikes on planes in the city, including 2009’s socalled “Miracle on the Hudson.”

In response to the operation, the group Goose Watch issued a release calling the roundup a cruel mass extermination.

The group accused Gillibrand of turning a blind eye to New York animal lovers and said the operation ignored solutions that would better address air safety concerns.

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