Feral pigs or wild boar to some are becoming a rising problem for airports and airport managers who are responsible and held accountable for providing a safe and wildlife risk free runway for planes arriving and departing. Feral pigs which are one of the most invasive species here in the United States but are wreaking havoc worldwide. Hunters, Wildlife Biologists, and the Government Agencies have been ramping up efforts to get the population in check to reduce the number of costly accidents and crop devastation. estimates there are at least 6 million feral swine spread throughout some 35 states. They have been a particularly virulent problem throughout the south, especially in Texas, where their incessant rooting and voracious eating destroy crops, erode soil and uproot tree seedlings, causing deforestation. They also carry disease like pseudorabies and swine brucellosis. The U.S.D.A. estimates, conservatively, that invasive swine cause upward of $1.5 billion in damage annually to all manner of agriculture, including rice, corn, and grains. But what about airports? Here are a few stories where pigs have cost the aviation industries a substantial amount of money and airfield damages.
An Etihad Airways Airbus A320 in January of 2020 collided with a wild boar when landing in the capital of Pakistan. The Aviation Herald reports that registration A6-EII was performing flight EY-233 from Abu Dhabi. However, as it touched down on the runway at Islamabad Airport, the crew noticed that the plane had hit an animal. The plane did not seem to be too affected by the collision as it continued to roll out and taxi onto the apron. Thereafter, staff went to see what happened when A320-200 was landing. While observing the ground, a wild boar was found lying on the runway.
In 1988 at Jacksonville International Airport Lt. Col. Sam Carter was rolling down the runway at 160 mph after landing when saw ″a brown blur″ and felt a bump before his Air National Guard jet veered toward a ditch and a stand of pines. A pair of wild pigs that wandered off course got hit by an F-16 fighter, forcing the pilot to eject as the jet veered off a runway and crash. Carter who was forced to eject from the jet before it collided with the nearby woods! This incident destroyed a $16 million dollar jet.
In 2008 at the Will Rodgers World Airport outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, a group of feral hogs had been digging under the airport fence and eventually broke through wondering around the airfield at night. The airport has a wildlife mitigation team with biologists from the United States Department of Agriculture. Those biologists had been tracking the hog for several days. In the end the pigs had caused enough damage to the airfield and the fence that biologist had to shoot them because they kept coming back.
Want to talk about severe long-term damage ask Williston Municipal Airport’s historic grass runway. The grass runway, spanning 2,600 feet, had been closed to the public for about a year, but not to the hogs. Since World War II, the runway has been open on and off. Despite local efforts, wild hog damage and maintenance issues are preventing the runway from getting approved by the Federal Aviation Administration. Without the FAA’s blessing, if an accident were to happen on the grass runway, the city would be held liable. Damage from the feral hog infestation added another hurdle to seeking federal approval.
Clearly these are just a few examples and there are many more all over the world. Here in the United States as this invasive species continues to grow in numbers and the risk of more planes colliding with them on the rise, its easy to see why Feral Pig Management is in high demand.
Invasive species typically thrive in a new environment for two reasons. When an animal, fish, insect, or plant is taken out of its original ecosystem and introduced to a new one—whether by accident or on purpose; it is less likely to have any natural predator so there is nothing to keep their population in check. Second without a predator in place, open the flood gates for breeding! Typically, invasive species are prolific breeders due to ideal habitat and next to no hunting predation pressure. They can destroy native plants, gobble up native animal populations and introduce disease, upending the delicate balance of organisms that provide food or support for each other, or provide a check on each other’s growth. Extinctions have proliferated.
Our human thumb print on this planet and especially the United States has absolutely fueled some of the greatest failures to regional and local ecosystems around the country. By releasing pet snakes in the Everglades National Park to a Shakespeare fan (true story) taking his love for a poet too far, we have without a doubt been careless and irresponsible with our actions.
Here is a list of some of the most hazardous invasive species we seemingly have no solution for in the Unites States.
In January 2017, I was waiting in the terminal of an airport that will remain unnamed. While in this terminal - at which passengers walk into a breezeway separating the terminal from the cold northern winds outside - I noticed a small bird in this breezeway that looked as though it was loafing in the area and enjoying the wind break it had found. I then watched as this bird continued to wait in this area until an airport employee walked past and opened the door so that they could enter the terminal. When the door was opened, the bird, which turned out to be a house sparrow (Passer domesticus), seized the opportunity to enter the terminal too, where it then began feeding on the crumbs of leftover food from waiting passengers and generally made itself known through making noise and flying through the terminal rooms and halls.
In the world of airports and aircraft, birds are a constant sight. While birds are a well-known issue in Active Operating Areas (AOAs) of an airfield, they can be just as much of an issue for the people working indoors (i.e. Airport terminals and Hangers). Some species, most notably house sparrows, European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) and rock doves -AKA Pigeons- (Columba livia) are notorious for being able to find ways to enter a structure and set up house within it. With that homemaking ability also comes a cost to the humans who built and utilize that structure. That cost usually comes in the form of the droppings that the birds leave behind. These droppings can fall onto people and objects below and manifest themselves into a larger issue than the birds themselves. These droppings not only create a mess that must be constantly cleaned up; but can also act as a vector for many diseases, such as Salmonellosis (Salmonella poisoning), Histoplasmosis and E. Coli. In addition to the deterioration of the sanitary levels of the immediate area, these diseases add a hazardous and potentially deadly variable to the equation. These diseases can be transferred to humans, especially in crowded areas, through the disturbance of dried fecal material, which then can become airborne and be inhaled by nearby humans.
The first question that must be answered is “how are they getting in?”. That answer potentially lies in many forms, but the most obvious one to start with is the front door. Whether this is the large overhead door on a hanger, or a single “man door” separating an airport terminal from the aircraft apron outside. Birds have both the ability and the reputation to use these doors to enter a structure just like you or me. While it will certainly help to try and keep these doors closed as much as possible, sooner or later they will be opened, and even if that is just to let a person inside the terminal from the ramp, House Sparrows can easily take this opportunity to enter the building and the problems can only rise from there. For instances like these, one possible solution may be to try and limit the birds’ willingness to be nearby a door when it is open, and to do this, it may be possible to dissuade individuals to loaf nearby through the removal of perching areas where they birds can sit and wait right opportunity. In places where the perch site cannot be physically removed, it may be possible to modify that site so as so birds will avoid its use. This can be achieved several ways, but the easiest is to install exclusion devices. There are two common types of exclusion devices. Physical barriers can be as simple as multiple plastic or metal sticks emanating from a single base (lengths can vary but are generally about 6 inches in length) that make it difficult for a bird to comfortably land and perch; or a large scale as exclusion netting, eliminating access to an entire overhang or area. Liquid/gel applicants on the other hand, are substances that can be applied onto these same sites (or sites where physical barriers are not wanted to be visible) and leave a sticky coating on the surface that makes birds uncomfortable and unwilling to linger there. Another gel product that has come onto the market is known as Optical Gel, these small gelatin discs (which look like a cluster of corn kernels), offer a green, environmentally friendly alternative to bird abatement. Between containing materials that give off offensive odors to birds (but pleasant to humans), and emitting UV rays that look like flames to birds (there is no actual fire/flames), it persuades unwanted avian guests from loafing in areas where these discs are utilized. A factor that must be taken into consideration when using any liquid/gel application is its exposure to the environment. These substances have the potential to degrade overtime and will need to be reapplied. Other options could be more subtle in their approach, such as programing electronic sliding doors to open and subsequently close faster than standard programing to reduce the amount of opportunity a bird (or birds) have to enter a structure. In areas with multiple doors in a breezeway, such as at airports in colder climates, the timing of those doors can also be manipulated to disallow bird egress.
In addition to the door, if birds and/or bird sign (droppings or feathers) are found within a structure, precautions should be taken to make sure that any other potential avenue for entry is closed, such as holes or gaps in the walls or roof that may allow a bird to fit and make its way into a building. These openings can be as small as 1 inch, in which species can gain access into a building, or find a cavity to establish a nesting site.
New technology developments are now available to deter birds from loafing in unwanted areas. Sonic speakers can be generalized as a specialized audio speaker system that is used to emit bird distress and predatory sounds to stress unwanted visitors enough to the point where they vacate the area. In the short term, these products can be effective, although birds have been known to become conditioned and acclimated to the speakers to the point where they ignore them altogether and care must be taken to not allow this to occur. Through the moving of the sound system to new areas, as well as randomizing the time between calling sequences, managers can keep the birds on their toes so to speak, and not allow birds to become accustomed to the speakers. Another product type on the market allows for the blanketing of a large area to make birds uncomfortable in the area. This product is known as a Hazer, also known as a fogger. Hazers use a fan and sprayer to broadcast a chemical that is unpleasant, yet unharmful to unwanted avian guests and prompts birds to vacate the area that has been treated. These types of products are specialized to affect only avian species and not humans.
In some environments and situations where public perspective may play an important part in the approach to dissuading birds, a subtler approach can be to passively deter birds from congregating in an area. These areas could include open ceilings with exposed I-beams or other possible perches, such as underneath overpasses for walkways or roadways that allow for perching habitat. Places such as these do not require speakers or bird spikes, as other materials, such as netting can be installed to cover a larger swath of area, blocking the general area from bird access rather than only on specific perching sites.
Should the birds be successful in entering the structure, staff can utilize traps to remove the birds. These traps can be as rudimentary as a butterfly net and a lucky arm, or as complex as funnel, aka confusion traps which utilize a narrowing funnel like passageway, with the narrow end in the trap. These traps are baited with food, and the birds enter the larger outside portion of the trap and follow the food into the trap, all the while the funnel is forcing their heads lower until they enter the main chamber of the trap, where the birds regain their natural upright stance. The confusion part of the traps name comes from how the birds are unable to escape the trap, as they will not naturally lower their heads to leave via the funnel they entered from.
The funnels take advantage of this natural unwillingness to “duck” and allows for a trap that is easy to move and manage and can be quickly placed and baited in a likely trapping area. A quick note about these traps, is to have a trap where the funnels are built separate from the main trap structure, and hanging the funnels by hog rings, allowing for not only a funnel, but also a flipping door reminiscent of a “doggy door”. The purpose of this swinging door is not for the entry of the birds, but so they funnels can be swung up and attached via clips or zip ties to the roof, allowing for unhindered access to the baited trap, which in turn makes the birds more comfortable with the entire setup. Prior to setting any trap, a few days should be taken to “pre-bait”/feed the birds. Pre-baiting should take steps in attracting birds to a specialized location (area outside of public view), then baiting within the trap placed in the location, but an exit door left open. This allows the birds to become acclimated to entering and exiting the trap. Then finally the trap door is closed, and birds can be captured and removed. Pre-baiting prior to attempted trapping can increase catch success, especially with birds that may be “trap-shy”.
In the end, unfortunately, no matter the precautions that an airport is willing to undergo, unwanted avian guests will almost always be able to find a way into places that they believe they can find either food or shelter and especially both. The best practice to minimize their impact on the day-to-day traffic within a terminal is to provide routine monitoring support in the form of trained staff. Staff should monitor structures for activity and convey information to proper channels (wildlife staff and/or maintenance) of their presence and during which time the birds can safely and discretely be removed the building.
One of the biggest battles when it comes to goose control especially in the Northeast states of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts is time! The weather and change of seasons are extremely unpredictable. One minute you’re shoveling snow after a nor ’easter storm the next you’re planting spring flower boxes. But that is more reason in the world of wildlife management time is of the essence! When it comes to Goose Control nothing is harder to do than re-rout a Canada Goose population once they have selected where they will nest and lay their eggs, as well as undergo their molting season. Adult Canada geese molt (completely replace flight feathers) each summer and cannot fly during this six-week period. After adults have completed the molt and young geese grow their first flight feathers, they begin to travel in flocks. Resident Canada geese usually move only short distances for the winter. Federal law protects Canada geese. It is illegal to harm geese, their eggs, or their nests in the United States without permission from the U.S. Fish and Wild Service (USFWS). Geese may be harassed or scared away without a permit if the geese, goslings, eggs, and nests are not harmed. USFWS allows resident Canada goose eggs to be treated to prevent hatching after simply registering online (details below).
PROBLEMS AND DAMAGE
A flock of Geese can cause quite a bit of damage to your property and if they make it an annual process, that can get costly. In that case you should be on the phone and calling Loomacres Wildlife Management to solve your problem and prevent further damage. Here are some examples of what damage geese can cause.
Because time is the key factor in a successful goose management plan, being proactive is essential especially early on before Canada Geese start mating and nesting on your property. In most cases, it is ideal to install goose control devices during the last week of February or the first week of March. However, in the northeast depending on the winter and spring storms, this may be delayed till early April in states like New Jersey and Downstate NY. Keep in mind that migratory patterns, molting and brooding season for Canada Geese vary depending on your location; you may need to do research and adjust your projected installation date. Check with local wildlife sources or give us a call to figure out the best time to implement goose control devices such as harassing or hazing. Scaring geese away so they learn your site is not a safe place—works better before geese become strongly attached to a site. The longer geese have used a site, the harder it will be to get them to move. Geese are also more willing to relocate before they establish nesting territories in early spring and again after goslings are flighted in late summer. Using techniques developed to manage livestock, dogs are trained to harass geese. Geese see the dogs as predators and avoid them. Dogs handled properly put geese in flight and the geese leave an area entirely. Handled improperly they may only put the birds in the water, where, if not pursued, they quickly learn the dog is not a real threat.
Geese may leave when untrained and unhandled dogs roam a property or when family pets give chase. But there are concerns about this. If a dog catches or harms a goose, it is a violation of federal law. If a dog harasses geese who are defending nests or young, either the geese or the dog may come to harm. Without training and handler direction, these dogs will not be as effective, and geese may habituate to dogs used this way. There are other site aversion tools. Some may be useful supplements in specific, limited, short-term situations. Below are some tips and techniques used for goose control.
Most of these methods if not professionally trained in the industry of Wildlife Management you will find yourself struggling to achieve the desired results. To have a Wildlife Biologist from Loomacres Wildlife Management Inc. come out and provide a free site visit please fill out the fields below.
Over the last 10-15 years birds have had to share the skies at an increasing rate! As more people experiment with drones as well as use them for more than recreational use, these unmanned ariel vehicles (UAV) will have an impact on birds. Here are a few questions we should all ask ourselves.
Will this be positive or negative? Well, what happens when the birds fight back or more importantly become trained and used to control the use of drones in certain areas? Is this fair?
Drones have been used for military applications for many years, but in recent years smaller, lighter, more affordable designs have made drones more popular for commercial and recreational use. Even in the industry of Wildlife Management we use them to harass geese and certain waterfowl species. Depending on the style, drones may be used for surveillance, inspections, surveys, photography, videos, and other applications. Drones are being used more frequently in firefighting, search and rescue and other tasks as well. Hobbyists are experimenting more frequently with drones, and as more of these vehicles take to the skies, birds may be at risk from improper drone use. Simply put drones are awesome, they are fun and have changed the way we do things.
NEGATIVE IMPACTS: The use of drones irresponsibly can cause harm to birds. Here are a few examples.
THE BIRDS FIGHT BACK: In 2014 the Federal Aviation Authority reported an increase in drones spotted near other aircraft, raising fears that an errant drone may imperil a manned airplane. But drones do not just pose a risk to human-made aircraft. Due to the increased “traffic in the sky” and the improper use of drone’s action was taken in a different way, Falconry!
The hottest new trend in the world of falconry is the use of Raptors to attack against drones! This ancient practice which when you think about it is freaking awesome to train a Raptor to hunt or harass wildlife and then return to your arm! Awesome. However, in recent years birds of prey have proven amazingly effective and attractive among law enforcement agencies for swarms of increasingly bad practices by drones. They are wiping out the skies basically. But is this really a fair fight? I mean imagine a bald eagle trained by the military to take down a drone. I know where I am placing my bet!
It is even reported that some hotels are employing falconry companies to fight off paparazzi drones! Yes, you heard that correctly. Hotels and other venues have been hiring trained birds of preys to attack drones used by the paparazzi trying to sneak a peak through a window or capture a private wedding ceremony. Even Kanye West had plans to import eagles to protect his home from drones flying overhead.
This method clearly works but is it safe for the birds? Is it fair for drone owners? Is there a long-lasting negative effect? I guess the only thing we can agree on is this debate and this battle is not going anywhere anytime soon.
So, we all know the phrase or song “how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood” but do you know how much damage they and other varmints can do to an airport infield or fence line? Let us start by defining what a varmint actual is. Websters Dictionary has it as a troublesome wild animal or unwanted pest! Some examples are, skunks, squirrels, muskrat, beavers, coyotes, foxes, and of course Woodchucks, or Gophers whatever you want to call them. Now that Spring is here, and your airport is coming to life with wildlife it may be time to step up your game and control efforts. Well, here is a list of potential hazards these varmints can cause!
For more information about the Potential Hazards varmints can cause or how to rid your airport of them, fill out the fields below and someone from Loomacres Wildlife Management will reach out to you shortly!
Aircraft collisions with birds (bird strikes) and other wildlife are a serious economic and safety problem. Each year airports and airliners shell out millions upon millions of dollars in repairs and refunds for wildlife strikes. It is estimated that at least four times a day an airplane must make an emergency landing due to a wildlife strike. However, all wildlife species are not equally hazardous to aviation. Due to the frequency of strikes recorded, size of the species, and damaged caused in a strike, airports need to address these species by either using non-lethal or lethal tactics. In implementing programs to reduce wildlife hazards, airport operators need guidance on the relative risk posed by the different species so that management actions can be prioritized by the most hazardous species. After reviewing the data collecting in the national bird strike data base, which is a great tool offered by the FAA, we have put together a list of the most hazardous species to an aircraft.
Other notable species to make the list include Gulls, Rock Doves or pigeon, Pelicans or Cormorants, ducks, herons, and of course Bald Eagles! If you are having issues with any of these species and would like to speak with an FAA Certified Wildlife Biologist please fill out the fields below and someone from Loomacres will reach out o you.
Spring has sprung for most of the country and for those who must deal with varmints and other wildlife species that come out of their winter dens headaches might be on the way. Out of all varmints woodchucks probably create the most Hazardous Risk for airports, industrial parks, golf courses, and other fenced in areas. They can put holes in your fence inviting other animals in, dig tunnels under roadways or runways, increase your predator numbers, and even cause an increase in aircraft strike risk or vehicle collisions (watch your tires). Most woodchucks will share a den until after their litter is born in Mid-April early May then the male will leave and occupy a separate den. Once their young leave the den and spread out in early August you may have a larger problem reducing the numbers inside your airport. Here are a few best practices we found most effective for woodchucks.
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We have all been sucked into the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) lifestyle that seemingly keeps getting more and more popular. Television networks such as HGTV, The Food Network, TLC, etc. have made a killing catering to our desire to take on projects that we may not be equipped or built for. In 2019 Home Depot even changed their entire tagline to “How Doers Get More Done” just to appeal to the DIY movement. When in doubt there is always YouTube where you can find a “How To” video to guide you from filing your taxes (reminder April 15th is around the corner) to building a She Shed, and even how to put together a model airplane that comes with directions.
In the world of Wildlife Management, we often run into situations where there are certain restrictions on how we can manage a nuisance species. Such examples are not being able to use firearms due to city ordinance or military bases, not being able trap because of laws and regulations in public parks, and even not being able to use a dog to harass geese or birds because of a dense human population. So, if you find yourself needing to manage wildlife but cannot depredate or trap, here are some DIY suggestions you may find extremely effective and simple to implement.
For more suggestions or to talk to a Loomacres Staff Member about a specific problem you might be having, please fill out the field below and someone will contact you.
The Federal Aviation Administration is monitoring the security risks posed by drones as their use continues to increase, with the agency expecting $9 billion in drone sales by 2024. As of January 2021, there were 1,782,479 drones registered in the United States by the FAA. 27% of registrations (522,645) were for commercial operation. That population is expected to reach 3.5 million drones by the year 2024! For a sense of the sheer magnitude of this population, compare it to some of the well-known raptors found across North America. At 2.3 Million estimated individuals, Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) are the most numerous on our list, with Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) and Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) making up the rest of our tally with 500,000, 300,000 and 250,000 estimated individuals, respectively. Adding up these estimates into a combined total gives us 3.35 Million estimated raptors. A full 200,000 individuals shy of the FAAs drone estimate. Of course, not all those drones will be in the air at the same time, but we can probably assume at least 15% of them can be airborne at some point during an average day. That means that currently, an estimated 165,000 drones could be airborne at some point on the day you are reading this article. With Covid-19 essentially changing the way we do everything the talk and even development of drone delivery services by Amazon exist and is not slowing down in momentum and development.
What does a significant increase in drone use mean for your facility? Increase presence around airports, invasions of privacy, security risks, the list goes on and on. In today’s ultra-modern, highspeed atmosphere, the ability to adequately secure an area is more difficult than ever, and one common breach of security is using drones. Now, the word Security may evoke thoughts of people in uniform physically securing an event, such as a sporting event or VIP event in a city center, but it can also mean a private residence, where an average homeowner may want to make sure that no one is spying on them and theirs by unscrupulous folks down the street. Whatever the case may be, the ability to unequivocally know that any area of interest is secure is a necessary evil in today’s world.
But as events like the December 2018 disruption of service at London Gatwick Airport have shown, education and deterrence are not enough — and a single clueless or nefarious drone operator can have an outsized impact. That incident resulted in a loss of $25-60 million in revenue for airports and airlines, according to Justin Barkowski, vice president for regulatory affairs at the American Association of Airport Executives, and 160,000 people missed flights. Investigators never determined who was responsible for the threat. (read story)
Today, there are more than 530 counter-drone systems on the market, according to the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College, with detection methods including radar, radio frequency (RF), eletro-optical and infrared imaging and acoustics. Interdiction methods are various as well, but there is little clarity among industry, government agencies and even the military what systems are most effective for various circumstances.
Here are some crucial things airport operators will need to consider with the growth of drone numbers or if you are looking into implementing a counter-drone system.
If you are having trouble implementing or picking a counter drone technique or product fill out the fields below and someone from Loomacres Wildlife Management will reach out to you shortly.