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Animal advocates take aim at NY airports for shooting snowy owls

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Friends of Animals has filed suit against the Agriculture Department, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service following a report in the NY Daily News that revealed that snowy owls are being killed at New York’s three major airports after the birds struck five planes. In fact, snowy owls rank “17th out of 66 species” known to be dangerous to aircraft around Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark airports.

“They can be quite dangerous,” noted Agriculture Department spokeswoman Carol Bannerman, who added that while the NY/NJ Port Authority has stopped shooting the birds following the news story on December 9th.

In the meantime, Terri Edwards, a spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service, noted that while the federal government allows major airports to “control threatening animal populations under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, almost all cases are handled using nonlethal methods. However, there are emergency situations when noise and scare tactics have proven useless, and there is no other choice but to shoot the birds.”

Note: Although snowy owls usually spend the winter in the arctic tundra of Alaska and Canada, there seems to be an abundance of them locally this year as they seek out more food sources according to wildlife experts who noted that bird watchers in New Jersey have reported observing more than two dozen in areas where they have never been spotted before.

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