Southern Brooklyn

26,000 Birds Shot Around JFK In The Name Of Safety; Many Of The Birds Considered Protected

The Snowy Owl was recently removed from the kill list. But bird killing still goes on. (Photo submitted by Stuart Fries, but taken by anonymous friend)

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey killed 26,000 birds over the last four years who had the misfortune of being in and around the John F.Kennedy Airport area.

According to DNAinfo, 1,600 of these birds were protected species – meaning they were endangered or at-risk species – that the authority did not have permission to kill. Citing internal records, between 2009 and 2013 1,628 birds from 18 different species that were killed were protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

While the agency is in charge of the airport and had permission to shoot “problem” species that threatened airplanes going in and out of the airport, the report has found that many of the killings were beyond the scope of the permission the agency had.

DNAinfo writes:

The Port Authority, which contracts the job of managing airport bird hazards to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, is able to shoot these species because its permits make allowance for “emergency situations,” according to the permit.

That means any migratory birds can be exterminated if they are deemed to pose a “direct threat to human safety” — with the exceptions of eagles and endangered or threatened species, under the law.

Carol Bannerman, a spokeswoman for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the actions it takes to reduce wildlife hazards at airports are “in compliance with federal and state rules” and that it relied more on non-lethal measures.

The agency has also gunned down the brown-headed cowbird, boat-tailed grackle, common raven, American crow, fish crow and waterfowl and wading birds that relish the coastal wetlands neighboring Kennedy, such as the wood duck, bufflehead, American wigeon, semipalmated plover, sanderling, least sandpiper, black-crowned night heron, great egret and cattle egret, according to Port Authority records.

The New York Post, also reporting on the issue, quoted animal-rights groups that called the agency “trigger happy” and:

“We find it upsetting they discontinued [nonlethal controls] . . . and decided it was more cost-effective to just shoot them,” said Glenn Phillips of New York City Audubon Society.

The Post reported that they also killed animals even if they didn’t have wings. “Tarmac hunters also killed four red foxes, 11 coyotes, 44 muskrats, 62 woodchucks and 11 white-tailed deer. Eighty-two eastern cottontail rabbits were killed at Newark and JFK airports, along with 44 black-tailed jack rabbits at JFK.”

The agency’s readiness to kill birds has been the subject of much controversy before and they recently removed the snowy owl from their kill list. And even when the agency isn’t killing birds, the airport still causes environmentalists to cringe.

The airport is in the middle of the Atlantic flyway, one of North America’s busiest routes for migrating birds. It’s surrounded by national parkland and a wildlife reserve.

Comment policy


  1. “..Most cost effective to shoot them.” Wait until this typical government mentality is applied to national healthcare. Take two of these in the back of the head will be a cure-all for sure.

  2. Last year alone, wind turbines killed over 1.4 million birds including bald eagles and many endangered birds. Instead of limiting the carnage, the Obama administration extended the permits allowing the wind turbine owners to kill birds from 5 years to 30 years.

  3. The planet is doomed.
    The population is growing rapidly and nature is being destroyed at high rates to accommodate all of us.
    Thank god I won’t be around to see all this.

  4. I refer Alex to the failed doomsday predictions of both Thomas Malthus and Population Bomb theorist Ehrlich. I rather have Alex working to fix things than to sit on his veranda spouting platitudes like “The planet is doomed”. Now, let’s get to work to stop the mass killings of birds by our government.

  5. Will it change anything if I get to work?
    Surely, you’re going to respond with: someone needs to start, and people will follow!
    Ohh trust me, most of us don’t give a flying f*ck about the future of our planet or the condition of it, I’m not even mentioning the birds.
    It’s in people’s nature to only care about themselves and their family.
    So, stop preaching me that the future of earth is in my hands.

  6. Why is this not mainstream news? Isn’t this more important than what’s happening with Justin Bieber or the Kardashians?

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