Cooperative mitigation of wildlife attractants between an Air Force base and the local community
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base (SJAFB), North Carolina lies within the Atlantic Flyway waterfowl migration corridor and is home to the 4th Fighter Wing (4FW), with 4 fighter squadrons and 2 training units, and the tenant 916th Air Refueling Wing (916 ARW), operating 10 KC-135R Stratotankers. To allow the 4FW and 916 ARW to continue their operations at SJAFB, the City of Goldsboro must maintain the safety of the military’s assets. This includes ensuring that land usage within a 5-mile radius of the base is compatible with safe flight operations (e.g., areas should not attract large populations of birds). Over the last 3 years, $4 million in damage to SJAFB aircraft was caused by duck, goose, gull, and vulture strikes. These birds are known to utilize wetlands, ponds, and quarries surrounding the base. With populations of these birds increasing around SJAFB, the addition of incompatible land uses could cause the city and surrounding region to lose $340 million per year in revenue if the base was to relocate due to safety concerns related to striking birds. The economic value of the base has helped prompt city officials to coordinate with the base before granting permits for new land uses. The city also has recognized the need to reduce the abundance of birds currently using the wetlands and ponds adjacent to the SJAFB airfield.