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In Brief

NYC Authorities Reverse Decision to Shoot Snowy Owls

Hedwig's cousin? A snowy owl glides over a northern landscape. Unlike many owls, snowy owls are active during the day. (Image credit: dreamstime.)

Hedwig, Harry Potter's snowy owl, would not be welcome at New York's Kennedy Airport. After one snowy owl got sucked into a jet engine at JFK Airport, the species was added to a list of birds that are allowed to be shot and killed there in order to protect planes from deadly collisions, according to news reports. At least two snowy owls were already shot and killed at JFK this Saturday (Dec. 7), according to NBC New York.

However, after a surge of media attention, the Port Authority said Monday night (Dec. 9) it was reversing its decision to shoot the birds. "The Port Authority is working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to move immediately toward implementing a program to trap and relocate snowy owls that pose a threat to aircraft at [John F. Kennedy] and LaGuardia airports," according to New York Daily News. "The Port Authority's goal is to strike a balance in humanely controlling bird populations at and around the agency's airports to safeguard passengers on thousands of aircrafts each day."

Five airplanes have struck or been hit by snowy owls in the past few weeks, according to the Port Authority. For reasons nobody fully understands, snowy owl numbers are spiking in the Northeast this winter.  

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Douglas Main loves the weird and wonderful world of science, digging into amazing Planet Earth discoveries and wacky animal findings (from marsupials mating themselves to death to zombie worms to tear-drinking butterflies) for Live Science. Follow Doug on Google+.