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Question of the Day
There is one dog whose job is herding geese, but the USDA does not use the falconers who previously patrolled Kennedy. Mr. Gosser said a falcon can scare small birds away, “but it’s not going to scare a goose. It won’t scare many of the gulls either.”
Bird strikes never will be eliminated, he said, “as long as birds fly and people fly.”
Most bird strikes don’t damage planes or force emergency landings. Ralph Paduano, a United Continental pilot who has flown for 26 years, said he has hit birds both on takeoff and on landing.
“We can’t really do anything about it. … If I was actually to see the birds, I can’t make any drastic maneuvers to avoid them.”
But there is evidence that bird-control efforts near airports are paying off.
Richard Dolbeer of the USDA, who authored a 2011 report on trends in bird strikes over 20 years, found that an increasing proportion of bird strikes are happening at altitudes greater than 500 feet, which means they’re occurring away from airports. Flight 1549, for example, was hit by birds at 2,800 feet, 4½ miles from LaGuardia.
In order to prevent bird strikes at all altitudes, the study recommends measures such as refining bird-detecting radar systems and researching avian perception in order to develop aircraft lights that would repel birds.
Those measures would be favored by animal activists such as Ms. Birnkrant.
“The killing just doesn’t work,” she said. “We have to focus on learning to coexist with these birds.”
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