According to the airport’s own records, wildlife control contractors killed over 1,600 protected birds at JFK over the past five years. In order to ensure the safety of passengers, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey does have permission to shoot birds that interfere with flight patterns, but only seagulls, geese and mourning doves. Despite that limitation, documents show that 1,628 protected species such as snow egrets, red-winged blackbirds and American kestrels were also killed from 2009 to 2013 near the JFK runway.

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The protected birds were not the only ones to be shot by the wildlife control contractor, a company called Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, hired by the airport. Since 2009, an estimated 26,000 creatures, mainly seagulls, have been shot at John F. Kennedy Airport, mainly because they’ve interfered with passenger flights. The airport has permission to kill many of these birds, which are considered a danger to safety, with species specifics outlined on a permit issued by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

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However, the authority has been keeping tabs on the birds killed that are not on this special kill permit. According to their internal records, it appears that the wildlife control contractors kill first, and then check the species later. Because of this blatant carelessness, 1,628 birds from 18 different species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act have been killed without a permit over five years – including three snowy owls last December.

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Normally, shooting species like this would result in a $15,000 fine or jail time. Despite public outcry, the Port Authority still continues to contract Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to kill birds at their discretion.

Via DNA Info

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