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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Non-lethal Management of American Kestrels: A Case Study at the Los Angeles International Airport

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

Raptor-aircraft collisions (bird strikes) pose a serious safety risk to civil aircraft. Even smaller raptors, such as American kestrels, can be problematic within many airport environments. Given public interest, logistical and financial constraints, and other factors, managing raptors at airports presents some unique challenges. Although a variety of damage reduction methods are often used, non-lethal tools are typically favored by the public. Like many airports, American kestrels are commonly struck at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Wildlife mitigation efforts at LAX (primarily live-capture and translocation away from the airport) were directed toward reducing the presence of kestrels. Management actions (e.g., pesticide applications) to reduce the availability of grasshoppers on the airfield at LAX were unsuccessful. On-airfield monitoring of American kestrel abundance was correlated (r = 0.84, p = 0.003) with the annual rate of kestrel-aircraft collisions at LAX, demonstrating the importance of continuing efforts to monitor populations of hazardous wildlife. Although an integrated wildlife damage management program is used at LAX, the extensive use of non-lethal methods (i.e., live-capture and translocation) to reduce the abundance of American kestrels at LAX appears to be an important part of that program.

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