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Snowy owls get reprieve at NYC airports

  |   Dec. 10, 2013 at 4:34 PM
NEW YORK, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Officials running New York City's airports say they have backed off their decision to exterminate snowy owls hanging out near runways.

The Port Authority said Monday night that instead of killing the owls, which present a danger to aircraft taking off and landing at the city's airports, they will trap and relocate them, the New York Daily News reported Monday night.

The about-face came after bird-lovers' feathers were ruffled by word of the culling effort that started Saturday, the newspaper said.

"The Port Authority is working with the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation to move immediately toward implementing a program to trap and relocate snowy owls that pose a threat to aircraft at [John F. Kennedy] and LaGuardia airports," the agency said in a statement Monday night.

"The Port Authority's goal is to strike a balance in humanely controlling bird populations at and around the agency's airports to safeguard passengers on thousands of aircrafts each day."

The newspaper said a source it described as familiar with the agency's policy told it three of the white owls were killed at Kennedy Airport Saturday alone.

The agency said snowy owls were involved in collisions with five aircraft at JFK, Newark and LaGuardia airports in the past two weeks.

The Daily News said Long Island businessman Donald Gelestino, 45, has offered to let the authority release the captured birds on land he owns in Sullivan County.

"Even in the hunting world, you don't shoot a snowy owl," Gelestino said.

It wasn't clear whether the authority would accept his offer, the newspaper said.

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