Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Good News, JFK airport will now trap and relocate Snowy Owls, not kill them!
Well, good news for Snowy Owls! The NY Port Authority, which has allowed Snowy Owls to be shot at JFK airport has now changed its mind and they are starting a program to trap and relocate the owls instead of shooting them.
I was interviewed for the NY Daily News exclusive story that broke on Monday which said the NY Port Authority had put the owls on their kill list and had already shot 3 of them. While I understand that birds can pose a threat to planes, I expressed my dismay and told the reporter there was a better way to treat the owls. I told the reporter to also interview Norm Smith, a raptor bander, who, at Boston's Logan airport, had been successfully trapping and relocating the Snowy Owls for years. I also gave her the name to interview, of Jeff Gordon, president of the American Birding Association.
Once the story broke birders sprung into action to put pressure on the NY Port Authority to change its policy. Through facebook, blogs and social media, the word spread. There was an online petition (which I and over 3,000 other people signed) addressed to Gov. Cuomo, asking him to stop the killing of the owls. The TV news stations got on the story. The pressure from bird lovers and the birding community was successful!! Thanks to everyone who made an effort!!
Snowy Owls, a tundra breeding species, have been appearing in unusually large numbers in the U.S. this winter and seeking out tundra-like habitat such as large airports, coastal dunes, fields. Some think it may be due to a lack of enough food availability in their usual range or a population surge of the owls. Snowy Owls have been seen now as far south as NC and Bermuda. Snowy Owls eat lemmings on their breeding range and in winter can eat rodents and waterfowl.
I and my husband Don, saw 9 Snowy Owls in the coastal NH area on Nov. 30th, when I took the above photos.
Lesson learned. Birders are a community who can be effective at bird conservation when they join together and lobby for safe treatment of birds.