Shuttle blasts birds heavenward

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An animal rights group is asking the US Fish and Wildlife Service to punish the space agency Nasa for failing to remove a great horned owl and three hatchlings from the space shuttle pad before its launch.

All four birds were killed when Endeavour blasted off on Thursday. "They've delayed launch for various reasons and saving the lives of infant animals is a pretty good reason," said Leslie Gerstenfeld-Press, a biologist of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Nasa knew that the adult owl was there, but didn't know about the hatchlings until their bodies were found on the tower.