Eastern Wildlife Damage Control Conferences


Date of this Version

September 1989


John F. Kennedy International Airport is adjacent to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge administered by the National Park Service. In 1979, 15 pairs of laughing gulls (Larus atricilla) nested on the refuge, the first recolonization of Long Island by this species since the gulls' disappearance from New York around 1900. The colony, with nests as close as 0.4 km to 1 runway, has subsequently increased to about 3,000 pairs. From 1970 to 1978, only 1 laughing gull strike by an aircraft was recorded at JFK. From 1979 through August 1989, 800 strikes were recorded, including 179 in 1989, in spite of increased bird management programs on the airport. We believe public safety considerations outweigh any benefits of maintaining the colony in this proximity to JFK, especially since the colony represents but a small fraction of the expanding east coast population of laughing gulls. Oiling of eggs to eliminate hatching of young may be the best initial approach to remove the colony. Over 63% of the strikes occur in late June and early July when adults frequently fly across the airport on feeding trips for chicks.