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Osprey called dangerous to endangered species

Date Posted: 2012-08-06

Just when the Japanese and American governments thought they had enough problems with the MV—22 deployment to Japan, a Japanese environmental group has tossed in another, blasting the low-altitude flight routes as impacting endangered species.

“The noise and other pollution from the MV-22 Osprey could further bring endangered species to the brink of extinction,” the Nature Conservation Society of Japan says. It’s lobbying to protect habitats for endangered species that include the golden eagle, mountain hawk eagle and ptarmigan, all of which reportedly have habitats along flight patterns designated for the MV-22 Osprey transport planes when they begin operations.

The American military’s environmental assessment report notes that the Marine Corps intends on flying Ospreys on five routes over Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu, and along a route near the Amami Islands, in addition to routes in Okinawa, where the aircraft will ultimately be stationed. The Environment Ministry is now conducting a nationwide study to survey every 10 square kilometers to see whether golden eagles and mountain hawk eagles inhabit the areas.

Officials say that except for Hokkaido, which doesn’t fall along any flight routes, planned MV-22 flight routes will cross about 10% of the species’ habitats in the study, which has analyzed the five routes. Habitats for ptarmigan, which are registered as a special natural treasure, also fall beneath some of the routes, according to an environmental spokesman.

The U.S. says Ospreys will fly an average 150 meters above ground, but could also dip as low as 60 meters at times while practicing low-altitude flight. An official notes many of the routes planned for the Osprey are already used by fighter jets and other aircraft. The Ospreys’ use of the routes will increase the number of flights by an average 21%.

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