Officials have killed nearly 70,000 birds in the New York City area through a programme involving shooting and trapping in a bid to stop more planes being brought down like the jet which was forced to come down in the Hudson river after a bird strike.

Birds were blamed for causing the downing of the craft which hero pilot Chesley Sullenberger, known as Sully, famously landed safely on the Hudson river. That incredible event went on to inspire the movie Sully, which was directed by Clint Eastwood and which starred Tom Hanks. However, it has also led to a major cull of birds in the area.

Following the incident, the bird culling programmes surrounding Newark and LaGuardia airports were increased. However, despite that, data shows that bird strike numbers have actually risen, so it appears the culls are not having the desired effect.

More bird strikes

According to latest figures, in the five years leading up to the Hudson river incident, there were an average of 158 strikes annually. However, in the six years which followed the miracle landing, bird strikes went up to 299 every year. It is believed that part of that increase could be because pilots are now more likely to report bird strikes.

Jeffrey Kramer, of the GooseWatch NYC group said that longer term solutions to the problem should be examined which did not rely on culling birds. He said that better radar systems should be looked at, which could detect flocks which might cause an issue for aircraft.

However, authorities say they believe that their killing programmes have made the skies safer because there has been no major crash caused as a result of a bird strike in New York since the river landing. Laura Francoeur, who oversees the airports as chief wildlife biologist at the Port Authority of New York said that as much as possible was done to minimise risk to flights, but there was still a lost of chance involved.