Appeals Court: 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 was within its rights to kill 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 and JFK, including the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson.”

The ruling upholding a 2014 decision by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn rejected an appeal from Friends of Animals, who claimed it “speaks loudly to the nature of our nation’s moral character.”

“Migratory birds that congregate near airports pose a well-known threat to human safety,” the court ruled.

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