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FAA Raises Concerns After Sunnyvale Uses Lasers To Keep Crows Out Of Downtown

SUNNYVALE (CBS SF) – The Federal Aviation Administration has raised concerns with officials in Sunnyvale after the city began using lasers to shoo away hundreds of crows from the downtown area.

In a letter addressed to Mayor Larry Klein, FAA regional administrator Raquel Girvin noted the community's proximity to Mineta San Jose International Airport and Moffett Field, along with smaller airports in Palo Alto and San Carlos.

"Arriving and departing aircraft operate at relatively low altitudes over Sunnyvale's airspace," Girvin said.

The regional director went on to say that lasers can pose an "aviation safety hazard" to flight crews and could blind pilots.

Downtown Crows
A flock of crows flies above Downtown Sunnyvale. (CBS)

"Our office alone receives approximately one laser complaint daily solely regarding hazards to flight crews," Girvin said. "Distribution of lasers to residents may lead to a proliferation of laser incidents against flight crews."

FAA officials said the city has since responded to the letter, saying that they would provide a laser to a city staffer and not residents.

Sunnyvale officials launched the laser program amid continuing complaints about crows descending on the downtown area, which has grown to an estimated 1,000 birds during the pandemic. The birds are often cawing long before sunrise and leave behind a wide swath of droppings.

"We love our birds here in Sunnyvale, but that being said, having so many congregated in one small location isn't good for our city," Klein told KPIX 5 last month.

The FAA told KPIX 5 on Tuesday that they will be "closely monitoring" laser-strike reports from pilots flying around Sunnyvale in the coming months.

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