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Spring 2014 - Act•ionLine

A Victory for Snowy Owls in NYC

by Edita Birnkrant 

When our New York office learned that three snowy owls had been shot to death at JFK airport in early December by the Port Authority and that the owls had officially been added to the airport’s wildlife kill list, we sprang into action, loudly opposing the deadly shoot-first mentality and generating calls and e-mails of outrage to those responsible.  The intense pressure urging the airport to relocate the owls instead of shooting them, compounded by a CBS New York investigative news report featuring FoA’s New York Director Edita Birnkrant questioning the illegality of the shootings and threatening legal action from FoA’s lawyers, resulted in a victory.  Within 24 hours of our efforts, the Port Authority reversed its kill decision and vowed to immediately implement a trap and relocate program, sparing the lives of countless snowy owls.  Then, during Birnkrant’s interview on the Jane Velez Mitchell show on CNN’s Headline News, we announced the breaking news of our impending lawsuit.

FoA’s legal department filed the suit on Dec. 23 against the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in response to the shooting of the owls, for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the National Environmental Protection Act.  Under federal law, government officials are required to fully consider and disclose all of the options to protect both the owls and airline safety.  It is clear that officials chose to ignore this legal obligation, and instead focused only on shooting as an alternative.  While we are very happy that indiscriminate killing of owls won’t be happening again, FoA intends to press forward to make sure the wildlife management program at JFK is more transparent in the future and brought into compliance with federal law.  Stay tuned for updates on the progress of this ongoing lawsuit.

 

Act•ionLine Spring 2014

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