Homeland Security Struggles To Stop New Terrorist Threat
NEW YORK - Early reports suggest that a bird strike was responsible for a plane crash in New York's Hudson River yesterday, leaving government officials scrambling to explain how such a large breach of national security occurred on their watch.
Bird attacks have been increasing in recent years. More than 200 people have been killed worldwide as a result of bird attacks on aircraft since 1988, according to Bird Strike Committee USA, and more than 5,000 bird strikes were reported by the U.S. Air Force in 2007. Five jet airliners have had major accidents involving bird strikes since 1975, and in one case, about three dozen people died.
Even the nation's space program has been hit: During the July 2005 launch of the space shuttle Discovery on mission STS-114, a vulture soaring around the launch pad impacted the shuttle's external tank just after liftoff.
NASA put safety measures into place after the incident, lining the shuttle's fuel tanks with cat fur and placing scarecrows along the launch pad and landing strip.
Officials say the birds tend to attack when aircraft are close to the ground, which means just before landing or after take-off, when jet engines are turning at top speeds and a crash is most likely to cause maximum damage.
Osama Bin Chirps, a 12-pound Canadian goose, claimed responsibility for the most recent attack in a video delivered to reporters at Animal Planet, the terrorists' news outlet of choice.
"You steal our eggs and hunt us down. And you think bread crumbs will satisfy us..." Chirps said on the video, according to a translation done by Bigson "Big" Bird, the government's chief Avian language expert. "Our great migration has begun, except this time, it will be America that flies south for the winter."
Fortunately, the latest attack resulted in no deaths or serious injuries as of this writing. But Homeland Security spokesperson Harvey K. Fakefield told reporters that the government is taking the bird threat seriously.
"We've hardened our aircraft to defend against this new threat," Fakefield said. "Future aircraft will be painted to resemble large, flying cats, in order to make these birds think twice about what they're flying into."
Fakefield said the suicide bird remains from Thursday's attack will be sent to the Smithsonian Institution's Feather Identification Laboratory to identify the species and link it to one of several well known Bin Chirps-affiliated terrorist cells, or "Flocks," operating in the U.S..
The President--for the moment, still George W. Bush--expressed his outrage at the "evil-bird-doers."
"Make no mistake, our resolve is strong. And we will prevail over this flying menace. It's like they say, a bird in the hand, well... it's a lot better than a bird not in your hand."
But Dave Notaman, professor of ornithology at Bodega Bay College in California, says birds are a very dangerous, sophisticated threat, practically impossible to stop.
"You can't just put these guys on a no-fly list," Notaman says. "They'd find some way around it."
According to the Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation, there are between 200 and 400 billion birds worldwide. "We have no choice but to negotiate with a population this large," Notaman says. "Perhaps President Obama can include a free birdseed program in his economy stimulus bill."
President-elect Barack Obama has yet to make his plan for dealing with the bird threat clear, but has indicated in the past that he will take a more diplomatic approach to ending world terror.
Fakefield says that Homeland Security is eager to begin working with the new President to solve the bird terrorist problem.
"This isn't a war we're going to win tomorrow," he said. "Our hope is... what the... aw hell... damn bird just pooped on me."