An analysis of Port Authority and Federal Aviation Administration data by The Star-Ledger shows that though the agency has expanded its wildlife management program considerably since 2009, wildlife collisions with aircraft at New Jersey airports have not declined. Though most wildlife strikes do not cause any issue, several planes arriving or departing from New Jersey airports typically do sustain damage each year. An aircraft at one of the Port Authority’s New Jersey airports collides with an animal, typically a bird, about once every two days — a figure that has remained virtually unchanged every year since 2008, the year before the Flight 1549 crash. During that time, however, the number of animals — from European starlings to foxes to the threatened American kestrel — killed by the Port Authority has skyrocketed. In Newark, for example, just 10 animals were killed by the agency in 2008, while 1,267 were killed two years later. “It’s a response to an oversensitive issue with respect to the public,” said David Mizrahi, vice president for research and monitoring at the New Jersey Audubon Society. “People want to understand that they’re out there doing something. But there are several ways to get at the wildlife hazard problem. I think airfields are a little slow on the uptake in coming around to them.” The Port Authority asserts that the vast majority of animals are relocated through nonlethal means and lethal measures are generally used only when all other means have been exhausted.
I think everyone understands the need for flight safety. But the policy should fit the need and the reality.