Following media reports that airport workers were ordered to shoot and kill snowy owls that pose a threat to planes, the Port Authority released a statement Monday saying it now plans to save the birds.
The agency said it is working with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to implement a trap-and-relocate program for the snowy owls, which have been migrating to the area in higher numbers than usual.
"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," the statement read.
In the last two weeks, five planes at JFK, LaGuardia and Newark airports were struck by the birds, according to the Port Authority.
The New York Daily News reported on Monday that the agency had added snowy owls to its "kill list" and that three of the birds were shot down at JFK Airport by Port Authority wildlife specialists on Saturday.
There has been a renewed concern about bird strikes at airports after a plane crashed in the Hudson River in 2009 because it hit a flock of Canada geese upon takeoff.