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"Port Authority, USDA workers shoot bunnies at JFK Airport"


 
Sunday, April 22, 2012

Port Authority, USDA workers shoot bunnies at JFK Airport
By ISABEL VINCENT and MELISSA KLEIN
The New York (NY) Post


It's hare razing at Kennedy Airport.
 
Birds aren't the only hazard to planes at JFK. The airport is teeming with
bunnies which can hop out onto runways in front of a plane or simply draw
birds of prey.
 
Ninety-nine wascally wabbits and hares were shotgunned at JFK last year by
Elmer Fudd firing squads comprised of Port Authority and USDA workers.
 
"It's open season at the airport to shoot rabbits," said Steven Garber, a
biologist and consultant for wildlife management at airports.
 
A new federal wildlife assessment of the airport recommends "regularly"
killing Eastern cottontails and black-tailed jackrabbits "to decrease the
prey base on the airfield."

Rabbits have been cited in three minor US plane crashes in the last 30
years, National Transportation Safety Board records show.
 
A pilot landing a single-engine plane on a grass runway in North Carolina in
2006 was slightly hurt in a crash he said was caused when his nose gear
collapsed after hitting a rabbit.
 
A pilot landing a twin-engine plane in Albuquerque in 1986 said he lost
braking in his left landing gear after hitting a rabbit, and in 1982 a
student pilot in Grand Forks, ND, said he hit a rabbit when trying to take
off in a small plane.
 
Wildlife is a constant nuisance at the 4,930-acre Kennedy, which borders
Jamaica Bay across from Gateway national park.
 
Tragedy was narrowly averted there last week after birds hit the engine of a
Delta flight bound for LA. The plane made an emergency landing with an
engine on fire.
 
Bird strikes at the airport have increased 75 percent since 2008, with 257
strikes last year. More than 4,500 birds were gunned down at Kennedy in
2011, and some 2,000 at La Guardia Airport, according to the Port Authority.
 
But shotguns are not the only weapon in the airport arsenal. The Port
Authority recently bought a $2,000 green laser called the "Avian Dissuader"
to use at La Guardia. A similar laser is used at JFK. 

The birds fly away if the bright light is directed near them at night,
according to the manufacturer.
 
The USDA report also recommends draining ditches and getting rid of tall
grass and shrubs so birds have nowhere to gather. Abandoned buildings at the
airport should be removed.
 
One drainage ditch east of Runway 4R/22L contained water for more than the
48-hour maximum period after a storm specified by the FAA, the report says.
Taxiways and grassy areas were "flooded after severe rain events, attracting
waterfowl."
 
The Port Authority should also fence the south end of Runway 4L to
discourage armies of diamondback terrapins from crossing the runway,
according to the report. 

The Port Authority said it had started to implement the report's
recommendations.

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