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Increased Presence Of Snowy Owls In Md. Poses Threat To Aviation

LINTHICUM, Md. (WJZ)— It's not the usual type of bird you'd see flying around BWI, but airport wildlife workers recently captured and relocated a snowy owl.

Monique Griego has more on how and why they keep track of these types of animals.

Because wildlife--mostly birds--can pose such a threat to airplanes, BWI has a system it uses year-round to reduce the danger.

In December, the airport's USDA Wildlife Services team safely captured and relocated a snowy owl.

"A snowy owl in this area is quite uncommon," said Jonathan Leddon, USDA Wildlife biologist.

Leddon says this year there's been a snowy owl irruption and the birds are traveling to unusual places.

YouTube video from another airport shows the beautiful animal that airport leaders say is especially dangerous to airplanes.

"The size, the weight, the fact that they fly low. These characteristics of snowy owls do pose a threat to aviation," said BWI spokesperson Jonathan Dean.

Birds do fly around and sometimes collide with airplanes. While the vast majority of bird strikes don't cause any damage, they have taken out engines like the in case of US Airways Flight 1549, when a flock of geese forced an emergency landing on the Hudson River.

To keep the animals away from the airport, wildlife technicians use various non-lethal measures. It can be as simple as reducing vegetation to honking a horn. Sometimes, they use pyrotechnics.

BWI is adding a third wildlife professional to its team within the next few weeks.

The adult male snowy owl is virtually pure white but females and young birds have some darker feathers.

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