Are turtles next on Bloombergs "hit list"..?
Eighty turtles refused to get the shell out of the way of Kennedy Airport runway traffic yesterday, causing a 1½-hour snarl at one of JFK's busiest times.
The dopey dawdlers, which are in the heart of their spawning season, were finally rounded up by a squad of Port Authority animal-control experts -- but not before two were crushed by a departing flight.
Turtles on the tarmac are "not unprecedented, but it doesn't happen a lot," said PA spokesman John Kelly.
The first few slowpokes emerged from Jamaica Bay at around 8:30 a.m., when they were spotted by the pilot of a departing American Eagle flight who radioed that three turtles were on the southern end of a runway surrounded on both sides by water.
Controllers then held a departing American Airlines jet until the wildlife-control workers arrived.
At 8:44 a.m., the runway was completely shut down for 12 minutes as workers cleared it of turtles.
But the procession picked right up just a minute after the runway reopened, with another departing pilot reporting more turtles making the slow march toward the tarmac.
In all, about a dozen pilots called the control tower about the spaced invaders, said FAA spokesman Jim Peters.
Controllers scrambled to switch traffic to different runways while airport workers removed a total of 78 turtles -- along with the corpses of two that were crushed by a departing flight.
The rescued turtles were released into the wild.
From late May to mid-July, female terrapins crawl out of their normal habitat to lay eggs on higher ground.
The PA's Kelly reported that the turtles were 2 or 3 pounds each.
Ilene Eberly, a researcher at the Wetlands Institute of Stone Harbor, NJ, said female diamondback terrapins average about 7 inches long, while males are about 4 inches.
Turtle-plane "collisions" are rare: Just five were reported at JFK from 2000 through 2008.