Group asks Westchester Airport to stop killing birds
Articles and Media Coverage From Animal Defenders of Westchester (ADOW)

We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Group asks Westchester Airport to stop killing birds

August 21, 2014

Westchester County Airport will consider new methods of scaring off birds and other wildlife without killing them, after meeting with animal advocates, an official said.

Officials from the county, which owns the airport, met Wednesday afternoon with Kiley Blackman, founder of Westchester 4 Geese and several other residents and experts who sought to convince the county that killing is not necessary to keep birds and animals from striking or being struck by airplanes landing and taking off.

"We have been able to stop geese slaughters all over Westchester, which is wonderful. But this is like the last bastion," Blackman said earlier this week.

Patricia Chemka, deputy commissioner of the department of public works and transportation, said county officials work to keep the killing to a minimum.

Completely eliminating wildlife deaths is "one of our goals also," she said Thursday. "But we kept emphasizing that we really have to make sure that the number one priority is the safety of the aircraft that are coming in and the people on board."

She said officials will consider methods the advocates recommended, including drones and a fake predator bird from a Long Island company called Geesebusters.

Since 2000, Westchester County Airport has seen 338 reports of airplanes striking or being struck by birds and other wildlife, including seven reported strikes so far this year, according to a Federal Aviation Administration database. Strike reporting is voluntary.

Many of the hits have little or no effect on the aircraft, but they can create dangers and even bring down planes. In March, a JetBlue flight leaving Westchester for Florida took a precautionary detour to Kennedy Airport after the Airbus A320 struck a gull shortly after taking off.

Attention to the problem heightened after the so-called "Miracle on the Hudson" in 2009, when Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger piloted a US Airways flight onto the river, saving all on board, after the jetliner had been struck by a flock of geese after take-off from LaGuardia Airport.

Westchester airport manager Peter Scherrer said fewer than a quarter of one percent of the encounters airport employees and a federal wildlife biologist have with potentially disruptive creatures end up in killings.

He said 181 geese have been killed over the past two years in the airport and surrounding areas included in the federally required wildlife management plan. He said other measures, such as stronger fences, and those that extend underground to bar entry from burrowing animals, have reduced the need to kill creatures.

Scherrer said the airport has tried many methods of scaring off birds and animals, including, for instance, a fake coyote designed to move in the wind, creating the appearance of being alive. It scared off birds, but not for long.

"It works maybe for a day," Scherrer said. "And then they sit on top of it."

Blackman said newer methods could work better.

"The fact that they're using some humane dispersal methods is very appreciated," Blackman said Thursday. "But it's time to upgrade."

Return to: Articles and Media Coverage
Read more at Westchester4Geese

WESTCHESTER4GEESE is an adjunct of ANIMAL DEFENDERS OF WESTCHESTER. We advocate against all forms of animal abuse and exploitation, including hunting, experimentation, fur, circuses and rodeos -