Northern Suburbs News
Snowy owls subject of lawsuit in battle with airports
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- 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.
The Connecticut Post reports that Friends of Animals in Darien targets the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Micahel Harris, the lawyer representing Friends of Animals, said a halt to the shooting does not matter. He says shooting owls could resume and advocates want to know what the guidelines are.
"The fact that they stopped the shooting doesn't make this a moot point," he said.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey 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 No. 17th.
"They can be damaging," she said.
But Priscilla Feral, executive director of Friends of Animals, says shooting the owls is "kind of a sick idea."
"But that aside, we're saying in the lawsuit that the law does not protect this killing of the snowy owls and that they have violated environmental laws in doing so," she said.
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