pstrongFriends of Animals has filed a lawsuit against two government agencies, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for killing three snowy owls, which violated the National Environmental Policy Act NEPA and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act MBTA./strong/p

script type=”text/javascript” charset=”UTF-8″ src=”″/scriptpThe gunshots that were fired at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York over the weekend of Dec. 6, killing the three snowy owls, were heard round the world.  By Dec. 9, thanks to ana href=”” target=”_blank” investigative report by CBS New York/a featuring Edita Birnkant, NY Director of FoA, millions of New Yorkers, Americans and people around the globe woke to learn that over the weekend government agents had shot and killed the owls—a species widely familiar to children as Hedwig, the beloved pet of boy wizard Harry Potter, and considered a cherished find by bird watchers—as well as a number of other birds./ppimg alt=”” src=”/sites/default/files/kcfinder/snowyowlFB.jpg” style=”width: 250px; height: 375px; margin: 8px; float: right;” //ppThe killing of the snowy owls was carried out under the Gull Hazard/Bird Hazard Reduction Program, authorized by the defendants in this case, to protect aircraft departing and arriving at JFK from bird strikes.  Since 1994, this program has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of birds at and near JFK./ppThe officials at the two government agencies named in the lawsuit were required to fully disclose the scope of their proposed bird reduction plan, to analyze the impacts of the program on wildlife and to explain whether impacts to wildlife—including the targeted birds—could be reduced. However nowhere in the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision for the Gull Hazard/Bird Hazard Reduction Program at JFK can one find any discussion about specific non-lethal methods for handling snowy owls. /ppThis defect in the EIS is serious for several reasons.  First, under the MBTA, USFWS is required to reduce the lethal take of protected bird species like the snowy owl. /ppThe killing of these birds could also have a significant impact on the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and Gateway National Recreation Area, which are adjacent to JFK and considered prime locations for viewing birds and bird migrations. /ppThe killings also raise a larger question about the bird program at JFK—exactly how many other birds are being killed on a regular basis that could instead be managed in non-lethal ways? /ppFOA does not dispute that it may be necessary to manage some wildlife near airports to ensure public safety. However the killing of these owls was wholly unnecessary. As one new report noted “[e]ven a wildlife specialist didn’t understand why they were being killed because they are not part of a large population and they are easy to catch and relocate, unlike seagulls.” /ppIn response to the backlash from the snowy owl shootings, New York Port Authority quickly said it would adopt a no kill policy and instead catch and release the birds like the program in place at Logan International Airport in Boston.  This lawsuit seeks to make sure the agency, and the federal government, in fact do so./ppa href=”” target=”_blank”Read a copy of the full complaint/a. /p