The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has killed 20,000 animals over the past two years, including a number of species considered threatened or endangered. According to a new report by the New York Post, the agency has been practicing a "kill-first" approach to managing species in and around the region's airports:
The agency shotgunned a northern harrier at New Jersey's Teterboro Airport - even though the hawk is endangered in the state, according to 2012-13 data obtained through a Freedom of Information request.
Teterboro's shooters also zapped an American kestrel, a small falcon listed as threatened in New Jersey. And hunters at JFK Airport offed 11 ospreys, which are labeled as at-risk in New York.
Although birds have been the most targeted animals to come under Port Authority fire in the past two years (over 5,700 laughing gulls alone were shot), a number of other species have been put at risk as well:
Tarmac hunters also killed four red foxes, 11 coyotes, 44 muskrats, 62 woodchucks and 11 white-tailed deer. Eighty-two eastern cottontail rabbits were killed at Newark and JFK airports, along with 44 black-tailed jack rabbits at JFK.
The Post's report details only the past two years of Port Authority's fusillade, but the extermination program has reportedly been in effect since the 1990s. According to wildlife authorities in both New York and New Jersey, however, the practice of shooting endangered or threatened species is illegal. But, as an agency spokesperson told the Post, Port Authority has been granted a permit to shoot osprey to ensure flight safety at area airports because the birds "did not respond to non-lethal harassment."
Animal welfare activists are alarmed at Port Authority's actions. But some, like David Karopkin of the urban advocacy group GooseWatch NYC, are not surprised. "There's no incentive to take a long-term look at this issue," Karopkin said. "Killing is a way for [Port Authority] to pat themselves on the shoulder and say they're protecting people."
You can find a full list of the animals Port Authority killed between 2012 and 2013 at the New York Post.