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Snowy owls targeted as hazards at New York airports

Dec. 9, 2013 at 5:19 PM
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NEW YORK, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The snowy owl is on the New York Port Authority's list of birds to kill to protect aircraft from sucking them into engines, a Port Authority source said.

Three of the species, whose best-known example is Harry Potter's beloved pet Hedwig, were killed by "wildlife specialists" with shotguns Saturday at New York's JFK Airport, the New York Daily News reported Monday.

The snowy owl, typically an arctic bird but one that flies south occasionally because of growing populations or a dwindling food supply, was added to the list after one, nesting atop a sign on an airport runway, was sucked into a turbine, the newspaper said.

"I'm loath to second-guess aviation professionals, but clearly, snowy owls commonly use airports and don't seem to be a species that is involved in dangerous collisions," commented Jeff Gordon, president of the American birding Association.

Culling birds at airports has been a hot topic since 2009 when geese, sucked into engines, brought down a plane in the Hudson River that departed from New York's LaGuardia Airport. Since then, other birds, including swans, blackbirds, crows and starlings, have been on the airports' kill list.

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