Opinion

Are an animal's rights more important than a person's safety in the air?

Recently, there have been at least two more incidents of bird strikes causing airliners to make emergency landings. Inevitably -- and understandably -- references are immediately drawn to the "miracle on the Hudson" where a flight out of La Guardia lost all engines due to ingesting a flock of geese.

While bird strikes are rare, these latest incidents give rise to calls for increased efforts to reduce birds in areas around airports. But this has churned up the usual suspects who have the weird belief that a Canada goose has the same rights to air space around LaGuardia as passengers on a 737 heading to Vegas.

Let's cut to the bottom line: any factor that threatens the safety of air travel must be address to the fullest extent reasonably possible. So if there is a bird sanctuary or avian nesting area that generates or attracts flying creatures which may even distantly represent a threat to air safety, there is only one option: remove it. Birds can go live and play and make little birds someplace else.

But, of course, there are the folks who get outraged, babbling about how such actions violates these animal's "rights." Can somebody clue these people in to the fact that animals do not have co-equal rights with humans? Animals don't have rights at all, as a matter of fact. Humans do, because they have agreed to such a system. 

But animals? Please, I've never seen a depiction of, or heard about, a moose being a signatory to the Magna Carta. And, I can make no references to the contribution made by any furry or four-legged creature at the Constitutional Convention.

So, the issue is simple: we have more and more evidence that birds are a widening threat to air safety. On a probability scale, the odds of an airliner accident being caused by running into birds are right up there with winning the lottery, but people do win the lottery, and we have had near-catastrophic incidents such as the miracle on the Hudson.

Here's the boom line: Birds can live somewhere other than near major airports, and if there is a thirteenth-place decimal point possibility of them causing an accident, eliminate it.

People's rights to a safe air transportation system are real. Animal rights-- which a Canada goose wouldn't even know about -- are not.

Michael Boyd is president of Boyd Group International, an aviation consulting firm in Evergreen, Colorado. The firm's website is www.aviationplanning.com.

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