A Connecticut animal advocacy group has sued several federal agencies over a recently halted practice of shooting snowy owls near airport runways in New York.
Micahel Harris, the lawyer representing Friends of Animals in Darien, says he does not mind shooting the owls for safety reasons as long as he knows what the guidelines are.
“The fact that they stopped the shooting doesn’t make this a moot point,” he said.
The Port Authority said early this month that five planes at JFK, Newark Liberty and LaGuardia airports had been struck by snowy owls. Officials said two owls were shot before the practice was suspended.
Terri Edwards, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the agency issues permits allowing major airports to control threatening animal populations. The permits are issued annually under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
“In almost all cases, non-lethal control efforts are used,” she said. “Noise, scare tactics, that kind of thing. But in certain cases — when there’s an emergency situation — the permit does authorize lethal takes.”
Carol Bannerman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said that federal aviation records for bird strikes involving planes show that of 66 species, snowy owls are Number 17.
“They can be damaging,” she said.