The Wall Street Journal reported today that the falcons at JFK airport are now unemployed, along with their falconer John Kellermann. The reason? Budget cuts.
The falcons were originally hired to cut down the number of bird strikes--plane-bird collisions, and the Journal's Barry Newman notes that "falconers became fixtures at JFK, roaming it with lots of publicity." Austerity, unfortunately, is the word of the year:
Now JFK's operator has cut short by a year its $3 million, five-year contract with Falcon Environmental Services Inc., of Ontario. It's negotiating (without bids) to award the job of banishing birds to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
It seems the birds will now be replaced with a less expensive mechanical alternative: shotguns.
We can't help but notice that the recent recession and budget crises have not hit all species equally. Dogs seem to be doing very well for themselves these days. The bedbug epidemic has produced new jobs for sniffing dogs everywhere, despite doubts about accuracy. Bomb-detecting, body-detecting, and drug-detecting dogs seems to be weathering the storm pretty well, too. New markets seem to open every month, with dogs services being recommended as a replacement for everything from shrinks to treadmills.