It would seem bizarre that turtles would be able to block a runway at New York's huge Kennedy Airport. But it happened Wednesday as a group of about 100 diamondback terrapin turtles closed a runway down for nearly an hour.
These diamondback terrapins are no bigger than a human hand, but put 100 of them together in a marching formation as they gear up to reproduce, and they can create a big headache for airport officials. The New York Times reports that they cross runway 4 every year at this time, which luckily is not frequently used due to seasonal prevailing-wind patterns, to get to the other side where there is sand, their ideal breeding environment.
They turtles aren't as big a problem for the airport as geese are. And their treatment today was completely different from the big birds. The Port Authority's Wildlife specialists and officials from the federal agriculture department relocated the turtles to a different nestworthy area on a safe plot of airport property. Alan Gosser, Assistant State Director for the Federal Agriculture Department says,
“We just take them to a part of the airport where they can keep traveling west, but in a safe direction."
Some folks, like Rabbi Alan J. Wachs of Cape Coral, Florida applaud the way in which the turtles were moved.
Let's face it, turtles were there first! Happy, that in this scenario, mankind chose kindness and understanding to resolve the problem of the "runway" that was built on the turtles' domain.
The Huffington Post reports that Jets have hit turtles a few times each year at the airport. It happens usually during the last days of June or the early days of July. The FAA's wildlife strike database shows that there are no recent reports of the strikes causing any damage to any airplane.