Nearly 70,000 gulls, starling, geese and other types of birds have died in the New York area since Captain Sully landed a jetliner on the Hudson River eight years ago this weekend, the Associated Press found.
Following the emergency water landing, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that a flock of birds caused a loss of thrust in both of the plane's engines.
Since that fateful day, bird-killing programs in the New York City area have attempted to make the skies safer for jetliners mostly through shooting and trapping.
But it remains unclear whether the bird-killing programs are actually helping. Federal data compiled by the Associated Press showed that in the years after bird-killing programs at LaGuardia and Newark airports, the number of bird strikes involving those airports actually increased.
"There has to be a long-term solution that doesn't rely so extensively on killing birds and also keeps us safe in the sky," said Jeffrey Kramer, of the group GooseWatch NYC.
But officials involved in the bird-killing programs have said that they have helped because there hasn't been a major crash involving a bird strike since "Miracle on the Hudson."
"We do our best to reduce the risk as much as possible," said Laura Francoeur, the chief wildlife biologist at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which oversees the airports. "There's still a lot of random chance involved."
Birds may not appear to be the most intimidating creatures, compared to, say, a hippopotamus or lion, but they can cause remarkable damage. A starling, which weights around two to four ounces, caused one of the deadliest bird strikes in history--a 1960 crash in Boston that killed 62 people.