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Using Bird Strike Information to Direct Effective Management Actions within Airport Environments

  • Author(s): Pitlik, Todd J.
  • Washburn, Brian E.
  • et al.
Abstract

Wildlife-aircraft collisions (wildlife strikes) pose a serious safety risk to aircraft. Many bird species, especially gulls, are very difficult to manage within airport environments as many traditional methods (e.g., trap and remove from the airport) can be relatively ineffective due to the birds’ various activities on airports (e.g., feeding, loafing, and flying). Such challenges have greatly impacted the Los Angeles International Airport and the Van Nuys Airport, as documented through historical bird strike records collected since 1990. Using information contained in these bird strike records, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services personnel conducted strategic planning efforts to reduce the risk of bird strikes. Since 2009, efforts have been made to improve the quality of wildlife strike reporting at Los Angeles World Airports facilities through the distribution of bird strike collection kits to airline maintenance offices, subcontract aircraft maintenance companies, and Airside Operations personnel. These kits are intended to facilitate an increase in wildlife strike reporting and the number of wildlife strikes identified to the species level. Following intensive management efforts that included trapping and removal of doves (i.e., rock pigeons, mourning doves), bird strikes by these species have decreased significantly at these airports. Airport-specific integrated wildlife damage management programs at airports that use bird strike information to guide management activities toward problem species have great potential for reducing the risk of bird strikes.

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