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Habitat management approaches for reducing wildlife use of airfields


Wildlife-aircraft collisions (wildlife strikes) pose safety risks to aircraft and cost civil aviation over $390 million annually in the USA. We reviewed published studies to summarize findings on habitat management techniques that have shown potential for wildlife strike reduction. Habitat components that may attract wildlife to airports include food, cover, water, and loafing areas. Although maintaining tall herbaceous vegetation on airfields may reduce the attractiveness of loafing and feeding sites for some species of birds such as gulls, this strategy may also increase cover and food resources for other hazardous species. Thus, optimum vegetation height management strategies require further research and may be site-specific. Replacing attractive vegetation with less palatable vegetation has also been recommended, but studies with widespread application are lacking. Removal of ornamental trees and shrubs reduces cover for deer and small mammals and nesting sites for birds while also reducing availability of perches. However, exclusion techniques are also needed for reducing the availability of artificial perches and water. Despite more than 30 years of substantive discussion on the importance of these habitat management techniques, few reliable studies of the effectiveness of these techniques have been conducted under operational airport conditions.

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