Airports Have Wide Latitude to Kill Birds

The operator of New York City’s airports has the legal right to kill migratory birds when necessary to protect planes, a federal appeals court said Tuesday as it rejected a challenge from an animal advocacy group.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was within its rights to kill nearly any migratory bird in emergency situations, including when three snowy owls were killed in December 2013. Exceptions include bald eagles, golden eagles or endangered and threatened species.

The appeals court recounted several “near-catastrophes” over the years at LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy Airport, including the 2009 Hudson River emergency landing after Canada geese went into both engines, causing U.S. Airways Flight 1549 to lose power. No one was killed in the accident that was later referred to as The Miracle on the Hudson.

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