New State Law Allows Airports To Kill Birds

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, December 21, 2009
California’s major airports will soon be allowed to stop birds from colliding with airplanes—even if it means killing the animals.
It’s the next in our series of stories about new state laws that go into effect on January first. 

Capital Public Radio's Steve Shadley reports...
Bird strikes with airplanes: it’s a problem that didn’t get a lot of attention until a U-S Airways Jet crash landed into New York City’s Hudson River last January. 

Here’s how NBC’s Brian Williams reported the story the night of the collision...
Williams:   “It’s possible that birds flew into both of the aircraft’s engines. The pilot quickly realized he could not return to the airport and land. His options were severely limited and the only place to go down in fact was the Hudson River just off mid-town Manhattan...”
The pilot was Sully Sullenberger of Danville, California who’s now celebrated as a hero for saving the lives of all 155 people on the plane.   

Before the crash, Sacramento area Republican State Senator Dave Cox was working on legislation to prevent the same thing from happening in California. 

But, to do that Cox says a state Fish and Game Department policy banning airports from killing birds had to change...  
Cox:  “This is the last step. You know I got several calls from people saying ‘don’t you know that birds are more important than people?’...and the answer is ‘NO, I don’t know that!’ You know if my daughter and son-in-law and grandchildren fly from southern California I want them to be safe. When you get on that airplane...I want YOU to be safe...”
Dan Taylor is with a group of bird enthusiasts known as “Audubon California.” 

He believes killing the birds is necessary for public safety. 

But, He says there’s a better way to handle the problem...
Taylor: “Airports should engage in better land management in and around the airport, around the runways, to make those areas less desirable for birds...”
But, other wildlife advocates say poisoning the birds could harm hawks, coyotes or vultures that feed on the carcasses. 

And, they say some threatened or federally protected bird species could be killed.