In an effort to make airway travel safer, almost 70,000 birds have been shot out of the sky since 2009. The drastic measure comes as a direct response to the accident that occurred nearly eight years ago when a pilot was forced to land in the Hudson River after two of his airplane’s engines sucked up a flock of geese. In spite of the damage, Chesley Sullenberger was able to land safely, saving all the lives of the 155 passengers on board.
Even though the number of birds has slightly decreased, the number of bird strikes has actually increased. Hence, before the Hudson River accident, airports reported an average of 150 strikes per year. After the measure was implemented, the number of bird strikes doubled, even though tens of thousands of geese, starlings, gulls and other birds were shot out of the sky.
The Kennedy Airport, which is located on a major migrating route, was killing birds even before the accident occurred. Nevertheless, the measure had little effect.
Bird Lovers’ Point of View
Several bird lovers have expressed their concerns with the drastic measure, urging officials to find alternative methods to make airway travel safer. However, airport officials stand by their decision saying the extensive killing programs give out promising results, as no other accident of the Hudson River kind occurred since 2009.
Wildlife officials primarily targeted geese around Newark, LaGuardia, and Kennedy after the Hudson incident. Since the beginning of the killing program, almost 16,800 European starlings were shot, and 28,000 seagulls, 4,500 mourning doves, and 6,000 brown-headed cowbirds were trapped and killed. Approximately 2,000 Canada geese were eradicated, as well, since 2009.
Plane Accidents Caused by Birds
Even though planes taking off from New York airports hit birds on a daily basis, these incidents rarely lead to accidents with fatalities. Nevertheless, more than 250 people died worldwide because of bird strikes since 1988. The first recorded incident took place in 1905, when Orville Wright struck a bird over a cornfield in Ohio, according to the Illinois Dispatch-Argus.
The Hudson River accident occurred on January 15, 2009, when a flock of Canadian geese ran into Chesley Sullenberger’s plane. The story is featured in the movie “Sully”, starring Tom Hanks.
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