California wildlife mitigation bill awaits governor’s signature

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California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is currently evaluating legislation to grant the state's airports immunity from state law to remove wildlife threatening to passenger safety from airport property.

The bill was sent to Schwarzenegger on 20 August after it passed both the California State Senate and Assembly. Schwarzenegger has two weeks from that date to sign or veto the legislation, says a spokesman for California State Senator Dave Cox, who introduced the bill.

Cox was encouraged by the Sacramento International Airport to introduce the bill. In 2007 the airport recorded the highest number of reported bird strikes in the FAA's Western Pacific region, says a spokeswoman for the airport operator.

The airport authority pushed for the bill after a state fish and game warden declared that Sacramento airport staff could be arrested for conducting wildlife management activities. Sacramento County felt there was a need to clearly delineate in legislation the airport's right to manage wildlife.

"We are pleased that this legislation has passed and are hopeful that Governor Schwarzenegger will sign it," the spokeswoman adds. The California bill is similar to Florida legislation passed earlier this summer following the ditching in January of a US Airways A320 into the Hudson River after the aircraft struck Canada geese.

Orlando Sanford International airport president and CEO Larry Dale, who advocated for the Florida legislation, has also pressed the US Congress to craft immunity legislation at the federal level. He says he has held preliminary discussions with Florida Congressman John Mica, the ranking Republican on the US House committee on transportation and infrastructure.