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Snakes on a Plane no Match for Turtles on the Runway

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"Enough is enough! I have it with these monkey-fightin' snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane!"

If you happened to catch Samuel L. Jackson's star turn in the heavily-edited-for-TV "Snakes on a Plane," you're familiar with the line that dared not enter American living rooms in its original form:

But today, a bale of turtles (yes, a group of turtles is referred to as a bale, a la a "murder of crows," a "hover of trout," a "bask of crocodiles," a "descent of woodpeckers," a "bloat of hippopotamuses," a "cete of badgers," a "pace of asses," a "dray of squirrels," a "business of flies," a "knot of toads," a "covey of ptarmigans," and a "labor of moles") shut down Runway 4 at New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport as 100 diamondback terrapins began their yearly mating ritual.

"The sandy spot on the other side of Runway 4L is ideal for egg laying," Port Authority spokesman John Kelly told the New York Post. "It is a naturally provided turtle maternity ward."

Possibly the most widely-known aircraft/animal collision (none of the today's turtles were harmed, as traffic was diverted to alternate runways until crews cleared the tarmac) was 2009's famous Chesley Sullenberger/US Airways/Canada goose escapade now known as the "Miracle on the Hudson."

However, "bird strikes" are by no means limited to birds, as the FAA's National Wildlife Strike Database informs us.

Between 1990 and 2007, there were:

59 opossum strikes

16 armadillo strikes

182 rabbit strikes

77 woodchuck strikes

18 prairie dog strikes

252 coyote strikes

40 skunk strikes

1 mink strike

2 Indian mongoose strikes

9 elk strikes

8 cattle strikes

1 swine strike

2 collared peccary strikes

36 mule deer strikes

1 burro strike

3 horse strikes

14 alligator strikes

7 iguana strikes

1 white-nosed coati strike


74 turtle strikes (including 18 diamondback terrapins).

Can't you almost hear the anonymous FAA administrator this morning, screaming at an underling during the turtle crossing:

"Enough is enough! I have it with these monkey-fightin' turtles on this Monday-to-Friday runway!"

Yeah, neither can I.
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