As the demand for energy grows nationwide, so does renewable energy sources being relied on to fill the need. The Department of Energy has a goal of wind energy producing 20% of the nation’s total energy demand by 2030. Environmental assessments are routinely carried out for wind farm proposals, and potential impacts on the local environment (e.g., plants, animals, soils) are evaluated. Turbine locations and operations are often modified as part of the approval process to avoid or minimize impacts on threatened species and their habitats. Any unavoidable impacts can be offset with conservation improvements of similar ecosystems which are unaffected by the proposal.
Am I the only one that drives through the Midwest looking at these giant wind farms and wind turbines that are moving at a snail’s pace and wonder “How can birds or bats not get out of the way”? Protestors and environmental groups always bring up the dangers of Wind Turbines and the impact they have on avian mortality but what do the numbers say and do Wind Farms need to employ Wildlife Management Tactics? First let us look at why this happens in the first place.
The USFWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) estimated that Over 200 species of bird have been documented as killed by collision with wind turbines. Passerines (i.e., songbirds) are most commonly reported, followed by raptors that hunt by day such as hawks, eagles and falcons. Although fatality rates for raptors may be lower compared to passerines, raptors are especially vulnerable to collisions due to their flight behaviors. Given the life history traits of raptors (i.e., long-lived, and low reproductive rates) their populations are more at risk of decline from the number of different sources of impacts that affect these species daily. So where do wind turbines stack up compared to other causes of bird mortality? Check out this graph of data provided by B. Sovacool.
To cut down the mortality rates as well as the damage caused by wildlife to wind turbines here are a few Wildlife Management techniques that could be used to do so.
For more information about Wildlife Management Strategies please fill out the contact fields below and someone from Loomacres Wildlife Management will reach out to you soon.
Over the past 30 years, the FAA has estimated that at least one plane a day is forced to land prematurely due to a collision with wildlife costing airlines $700 million in damages annually. The reality of the problem is that airplanes collide with birds and other wildlife at an astonishing rate because almost everywhere you look wildlife is living on or around airports. The Federal Aviation Administration has reported that nearly 9,000 birds are struck every year and those are just the ones being reported, So the number is estimated to be almost north of 20,000 every year. In 2018 USA Today did a story where they revealed that planes hit at least 40 birds a day!
The FAA has identified 482 bird species that were hit in the U.S. from 1990 through 2019. Airplanes run into loons, starlings, grebes, pelicans, cormorants, herons, storks, egrets, swans, ducks, vultures, hawks, eagles, cranes, sandpipers, gulls, pigeons, cuckoos, owls, turkeys, blackbirds, crows, chickadees, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, mockingbirds, parrots, bats—as well as various kinds of geese. (Animals, such as deer, struck on the ground during takeoffs and landings also make up a meaningful portion of kills.)
So why are Geese singled out so much? Well simple, their large body size, large flock size and sheer ability to cause damage on impact make them a huge target when applying wildlife management resources on your airport. The USDA says that of 10,000 plus avian strikes reported every year Geese make up about 1% of them. Of those Geese killed about 80% of them were resident geese not migratory. The biggest problem, however, has to do with the land surrounding airports. As a buffer to urban centers, most airports include a lot of undeveloped land around them. Hearty birds find this and use it as a refuge, depending on what plant, water and other natural resources are available.
Solution Time! Ok so we know geese are a huge problem how do we fight back?
Non-Lethal Management Practices tends to be employed first by just about everyone in the industry. These consist of using any means necessary to detour or disperse the geese from staging on or near the airport. Here are a few techniques used to harass the geese and scare them away.
Lethal Management Practices are typically used in extreme cases of either over population or too much potential risk! Although depredation is usually the last resort it absolutely is the most effective. Goose mitigation whether it be destroying and oiling goose nests in the spring or shooting a few as needed almost always clears the resident geese from coming back.
The FAA has really done a great job encouraging airport operators to secure grants for funding programs such as a Wildlife Hazard Assessment and Wildlife Hazard Management Plan. These programs allow private companies like Loomacres Wildlife Management Inc. to come to your airport and conduct a wide range of tests, surveys, and research to help identify how great a risk Geese and other species are on your airport. From there Loomacres will provide you with a WHMP basically an action plan with how to address these issues and how to allocate resources to do so. Loomacres also provides FAA Approved Training Seminars for your airport staff and airport operators. But most of all it is a one stop shop for all your airport wildlife management needs. As the first privately owned FAA approved airport wildlife management company, our staff of Airport Certified Biologists are trained and experienced enough to irradicate any issue. So, stop losing the battle in the skies and fill out the fields below to speak with someone at Loomacres for a free consultation.
Watching waterfowl migrate south in the winter and north in the spring is one of mother nature’s timely gifts we get to enjoy every year. However, for an airport operator this tends to be their worst nightmare for air safety! Bird strikes happen every day on airports, but the risks are never higher at the peak of waterfowl migration. Companies like Loomacres Wildlife Management and their staff of Wildlife Biologist must ramp up efforts to detour waterfowl from roosting and nesting on stormwater retention ponds or feeding on airfields and nearby crops. During the migration season airports, and airliners loose millions of dollars a year due to collisions with ducks and geese simply passing through, or looking for food, water, and a place to sleep. At Loomacres we have clients in all 4 migratory flyways in North America (Atlantic, Mississippi, Central, and Pacific) and this year the reports from our Airport Wildlife Biologists have all been consistent with the trend that there just isn’t a lot Ducks and Geese Migrating.
But there is a silver lining that is kind of alarming and sad at the same time. According Ducks Unlimited, in 2019 the breeding duck population was estimated at 38.9 million breeding ducks in the which is 6 percent lower than last year’s estimate of 41.2 million and 10 percent above the long-term average (see more). These numbers have continued to fall in 2019, and 2020 according to Wildfowl Magazine, and don’t ask any hunters about the decreased daily bag limits that have seen up to a 50% reduction in states like New York and Maryland. Is it just waterfowl that is disappearing? Nope, Scientific America has seen a decrease in total bird population drop 29% since 1970 which equates to a 3 Billion drop in population!
See Chart Below.
From the graph above you can see that Waterfowl made a huge surge due to conservation efforts till 2017 but have dropped by an average of 5.8% the last three years. So, where the heck have, they gone and what does this mean for Airport Operators? Simply it is a double edge sword scenario. On the one hand less birds less airstrikes but no birds equal more human destruction. It does not take a Wildlife Biologist to see that our human impact on land development and increased population (do not get me started on Global Warming) has significantly reduced the habitat for all living creatures on this planet but specifically in the United States. Will we see a healthy population of migrating ducks and geese level out? We shall see, but for now Airports and Airport Operators are enjoying clear skies but for how long and at what cost.
Management strategies for coyotes should start with understanding the true threat they can be when it comes to air safety. The habitat that airports provide for small birds, and mammals is a huge attractant for coyotes. These animals are extremely adaptive to their ever-changing habitat. Coyotes are members of the Canidae family and share a lot of the same traits of their relatives: wolves, dogs, foxes, and jackals. They have narrow, elongated snouts, lean bodies, yellow eyes, bushy tails, and thick fur. Coyotes are about as big as medium-size dogs, though they are smaller than wolves. They are 32 to 37 inches (81 to 94 centimeters) from head to rump, according to National Geographic. Their tail adds another 16 inches (41 cm) to their length. Coyotes typically weigh about 20 to 50 lbs. (9 to 23 kilograms)
This species can thrive in forests, farmlands, prairies, mountains, deserts, and swamplands. Coyote populations are known to exist in 46 states, and it is possible that coyotes will soon be present in all states except Hawaii. Coyotes can adapt to populated areas, and thousands of coyotes living within the city limits of Los Angeles (see story) have led to severe management problems. And its not just Los Angeles its everywhere! In the airport wildlife management industry, we at Loomacres have had to delegate more and more resources to coyote control. They are extremely resilient and should not be taken lightly when trying to trap or depredate.
So here are some tips for trapping coyotes on airports
These are just a few techniques we have adapted and found successful when trapping coyotes on airports. If you have more techniques you would like to share or for more information, please fill out the fields below.
Managing wildlife on airports is a never-ending battle. This battle is fought two different ways, lethal and non-lethal. Most wildlife is attracted to airport environments because it typically holds what they crave, food, water, and shelter. As the population of humans increase and so does the love for land development, airports become more and more of a hotspot for birds and mammals to take refuge. One rule of thought is that the most effective way of managing wildlife on airports is to modify or remove the attractants so that wildlife avoids the airport all together. Non-lethal management practices are often referred to as hazing or habitat management. Unfortunately, this method can never be 100% successful because of the highly adaptable nature of most wildlife species. This makes it extremely difficult and a time intense task. This creates a huge problem for all airport operators since courts have determined that airport operators are responsible for keeping a safe, wildlife free facility, and is obligated to warn flight crews of any activity. Private companies like Loomacres Wildlife Management Inc. become extremely important and can be an airports best friend for supplying tactics and executing proper techniques to mitigate wildlife risks.
The first step in implementing a wildlife management plan on airfields is to perform a risk assessment. If you do not have data already on file you can begin by observing the wildlife that is using the airport. Set up in different places at different times of the day and night and simply observe and report. This will paint a clear picture of what species may be living on the airfield or somehow getting into the airfield. Second continue collecting and analyzing wildlife strike data to identify the species struck by aircrafts. The last thing and most important is to run a report in the FAA Strike Database. Some will run this dating back to the last 10 years or more. This may sound like an extremely time-consuming process and for the most part it is. However, the data will be used to allocate resources once your WHMP is put into place. Airports that are typically at high risk and in much need of implanting a plan immediately usually have a history of high strike rates or tend to be located near lakes, rivers, or other large bodies of water attracting migratory waterfowl. Also, airports that have landfills near by will also be at higher risk of strikes at an alarming rate. These airports must implement a rather aggressive wildlife control program.
Once a risk assessment is concluded the data is used to customize a WHMP (Wildlife Hazard Management Plan). A well-developed plan will outline not only strategies but also allocations of wildlife control resources and includes information on the following:
Although not all encompassing, the bullets summarize issues that are typically addressed in an airport wildlife management plan. The short term and long-term success of an airport wildlife control program is very much dependent on a formal risk assessment and management plan, and the cost associated with developing the risk assessment and management plan will be recovered as success is realized. Perhaps even more important is the value provided by a formal, documented plan should legal action be taken by an air carrier following a damaging wildlife strike incident. It is also useful and cost effective to include in the planning process a professional biologist who has experience in wildlife hazard management which Loomacres can provide. Issues associated with natural science applications can be much more complex than first assumed, and current knowledge of effective wildlife management strategies and tactics is crucial to a successful plan. Finally, an airport wildlife management plan must be signed-off by the management team, demonstrating support and commitment for the program. Now that we have discussed some of the issues that provide a framework for the implementation of actions to manage wildlife hazards at an airport, we can conclude with a short discussion on passive and active management programs.
For more information or to contact Loomacres for a discussion of your current airport and needs, please fill out the fields below.
Bird predation of fish has become a major problem for fish farmers and is getting worse as problem bird populations increase. Most fish farmers already have experienced bird predation problems or will in the future that needs to be addressed for the sake of losing taxpayer money.
Most fish-eating birds are opportunistic feeders and take whatever food is most easily accessible, so most fish hatcheries serve as a buffet. There are several birds that prey on fish. These include the double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, green-backed heron, little blue heron, black-crowned night heron, great egret, snowy egret, American white pelican, belted kingfisher, osprey, bald eagle, gulls, terns, and merganser ducks. These birds, except the merganser ducks, are protected by federal law and cannot be killed without a special federal permit. The merganser ducks can only be hunted during duck season under regulations applying to general duck hunting.
Artificial rearing areas, heavily stocked during certain times of the year, attract these birds. Hatchery fish, having spent all their lives in protected environs, tend to be naive about predators. Although the fish are wary by nature, they may not, respond appropriately to a predator attack. When fish are stacked up in hatcheries, they are easier for birds to catch than are fish in a natural setting. Among the factors that affect the predator-prey relationship between fish eating birds and hatchery-reared fish are the size of the fish and the hatchery location. Hatcheries located near nesting sites, flyways, or estuaries routinely have severe avian predator problems. Coastal hatcheries in general have greater problems than inland hatcheries with fish lost to avian predators. Locations with naturally occurring populations of fish attract fish eating birds, and fish hatcheries are usually constructed near natural concentrations of fish. This results in an obscene amount of loss revenue for hatcheries that are unable to manage the wildlife and detour the birds from gorging on their profits.
The most effective frightening device is increased human presence, which can also be the costliest. Some of the better scare devices are shellcrackers, whistle cartridges, bird bangers, screamer sirens, shotgun shells fired into the air, propane blast cannons, rope firecrackers, recorded bird distress calls, pop-up scarecrows that emit a loud noise as they are inflated, and balloon or other types of scarecrows that move in the wind. Any scarecrow or noise device must be moved around the facility for it to maintain effectiveness. Control measures must consider the type of predator they will be used against. Some measures are useful for a wide range of pests and others are useful only for specific types. Physical Devices can be designed for specific types of predators. If the predominant loss has occurred from wading birds such as herons, electric fences or low-level netting are effective deterrents. Some hatcheries have been successful in deterring herons by lowering the pond water level so that the birds cannot reach the fish. Some hatcheries have vertical walls with undermined walkways, these coupled with water level manipulations prohibit the birds from perching on the walls or wading into the ponds and reaching the fish. Where predators attack fish by diving from the air or from a perch, lines or wires placed over the tops of ponds are effective. These devices break up the flight pattern, although occasionally a bird is killed by the lines. Cormorants are difficult to keep away from large ponds. They have been known to swim under netting suspended at or below the water surface to get to fish. Some losses are so high that netting can be placed several feet below the surface of the water to give the fish protection. Physical control measures must be designed specifically for the hatchery as well as for the predator.
With the population of wild fish such as salmon and trout decreasing with the demand of human consumption hatcheries are becoming more and more popular and needed to sustain healthy populations of fish. With this demand it seems to be apparent that the war between hatcheries and birds of prey is not going anywhere anytime soon. For more information, please fill out the fields below and someone from Loomacres Wildlife Management will contact you.
In many developing areas, the issue of solid waste management in cities is rapidly becoming an environmental and economic issue as cities are centers of garbage production. Tons of municipal solid waste, mainly comprising of nonhazardous garbage, and trash from homes, institutions, and industrial facilities often end-up in urban landfills which might as well be the Bat signal lighting up the skies of Gotham for hungry animals. Landfill construction for solid waste disposal not only removes suitable habitats for certain wildlife species but also enhances certain other human-wildlife interactions. Such interactions may have both positive as well as negative impacts on wildlife populations. Waste landfills are reliable and rich sources of food, approximately one third of our left-over food finds its way to a landfill and food does not stop being food once we throw it out. These man-made habitats can support large populations of different species of wildlife.
Unusually high population inflations of few opportunistic species of birds can impose a severe impact on the overall ecological balance. With the huge issue cities are having with crow populations roosting in many downtown areas they are often attracted to these landfills during the winter months by the thousands. Also, when food is scarce in the urban agricultural areas due to frozen fields and picked over crops many species of gulls will use landfills as well. And if you have ever had the pleasure of visiting a landfill in the winter it can be summed as a scene out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds. This is also becoming an issue disrupting the migration of some species of birds, for example one population of white storks is deciding to stay behind, seemingly canceling its migratory flight south in favor of gorging on rotting food found in Portuguese landfills.
On the other hand, with the trending decline in many natural habitats, human modified habitats such as landfills are increasingly becoming important habitats for numerous avian species. As birds adapt to an environment increasingly dominated by humans, their social behavior and demography is likely to change. As major changes in waste management and disposal practices such as changing from landfilling to incineration can potentially have sizeable impacts on bird populations depending on landfills, better understanding of the extent and patterns of daily use of landfills by birds and their seasonal dynamics in abundance is incredibly important. Such ecological information would be useful for regulatory agencies and local governments in decision making pertaining to the management of landfills. However, limited or no studies in literature have investigated the effects of landfills on the spatial and temporal distribution of birds and other wildlife species foraging at landfills.
With municipal waste expected to double by the year 2025 it is safe to say that not only is this a problem today, but it will certainly be an increasingly huge problem for the future! Only time will tell if the garbage is actually “good” for the birds, as dump-diving could lead the animals to accidentally ingest all sorts of plastic, toxins, and other hazardous material. Similarly, studies have yet to be conducted on the potential ecological impacts of the birds’ ditching their southern migration.
There is a new technique being used on airports to control wildlife and even in cities to combat the over population of crows. This technique dates to Ancient Egypt and is used in pretty much every culture throughout the timeline of history, FALCONRY, or the use of Raptors!
Falconry is the hunting of wild animals in their natural state and habitat by means of a trained bird of prey. Small animals are hunted; squirrels and rabbits often fall prey to these birds. Raptors have long been recognized as an efficient and effective method of problem bird control. Depending on the habitat setting or which species are causing problems, Loomacres will modify abatement strategies to ensure that all nuisance issues can be addressed. Typically, Loomacres staff will continuously harass nuisance wildlife throughout the entire day to present a constant threat to nuisance species. However, some nuisance species do not require such rigorous harassment, and a staggered schedule can be supplemented.
Loomacres recommends that multiple non-lethal harassment techniques be utilized in conjunction with raptor abatement. At airports, many birds pose a bird strike risk, and are necessary to manage. Raptors are an ideal solution for controlling a variety of species, including gulls, starlings, dunlin, crows, robins, geese, and other birds.
As natural predators of these (sometimes unwelcome) species, hawks, falcons, and eagles are a fantastic alternative to shooting, poisoning, or trapping. By using time honored falconry techniques, we can successfully and naturally patrol and manage these problematic species.
Aside from airports more and more cities are using raptors to manage the overwhelming crow populations in metropolitan areas. (Click Here for Video) By simply introducing a natural predator to these urban areas the crows will typically abandon their roosting spots at night and keep it moving.
With more and more people becoming aware of the benefits of using Falconry for wildlife control and just seeing the effectiveness of these prolific hunters its pretty safe to say we may be seeing a new trend unfold in front of our eyes. (click here related article) We at Loomacres love our raptors and are continuing to develop new strategies to use them for clients in need.
For more information about how we can help you, fill out the fields below and someone will reach out shortly.
Deer, Vultures and Geese. These 3 species groups take the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals for damaging aircraft as ranked by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and as such are the top 3 thorns in the side for airport managers and wildlife professionals alike. By no means though are these the only threats to aviation, with coyotes, cormorants, and various raptors amongst the dozens of species that must be dealt with to protect an airport from damaging strikes. Every airport deal with wildlife in one form or another, from the heavy deer populations in the East to the huge waterfowl migrations of the West. We all deal with it, but how to we know how bad we really have it? What if there was a software program that allowed airport staff to succinctly rank their airfield to know how much of a threat their local deer population poses to their aircraft? Well, you are in luck! This program already exists, and its name is WHaMRAT.
The “Wildlife Hazard and Management Risk Assessment Tool”, which is a long way to say WHaMRAT, is a dynamic modeling tool which takes your wildlife data, in addition to their own formulas within a plug-n-play style spreadsheet (actually 3 spreadsheets in total) to produce a score to reflect your airport’s Overall Aggregate Wildlife Risk (OAWR). This is a scale-based score, with a range of 1-5, with 1 being the low and the 5 the high score. So, this scale is more like golf than it is like baseball, with the lower scores coming out on top.
So what information is required for this program to work? I am glad you asked. This formula takes 4 factors into account, including 1) wildlife presence/abundance, 2) monthly average aircraft ops, 3) incompatible locations of current habitat and 4) current mitigation actions for both habitat and wildlife. In addition to rating current efforts, future mitigation can be added to the equation to assess its effectiveness, known in the program as Future-Projected Results.
In addition, this program is also separated into 2 versions, EZ and Advanced. For most users, the EZ version will give a comprehensive overview, while the Advanced version gains more detail via using fewer general data, such as gauging the likelihood of the strike for a specific species rather than using a group/guild like in the EZ format.
Taking a small step back to the three spreadsheets required to gain the Overall Aggregate Score, first you must calculate your Aggregate Wildlife Risk Score, which involves the presence/abundance of guilds as well as their likelihood of a strike. The second sheet concerns Ops, with Monthly Average Aircraft Operations taking the number of operations, with aircraft type also coming into play to gain the Operations Adjustment. The final computation is the Habitat Adjustment – Mitigated. This score is governed by the presence/absence of incompatible habitat and its distance from the airport. Any mitigation of incompatible habitat as well as mitigation of specific wildlife guilds are also considered in this spreadsheet. Each of these scores will plot onto a pre-determined graphic, which highlights wildlife risk versus each adjustment in a color-coded scale (Green, Yellow, Red).
Once your individual scores have been calculated and plotted, they can then be plugged into the fourth and final worksheet, which takes each of these outputs, and pops out your Overall Aggregate Wildlife Risk Score, which can then be plotted onto its own graphic.
In summation, WHaMRAT provides every airport, regardless of type or size, with a comprehensive score for the assessment of the severity of their wildlife risks. It should also be noted that these scores are dynamic as well, so in the coming years, as airfield continue to mitigate their hazard risks, these scores and their amendments can show numerically the efforts of an airport to reduce hazards to increase safety for everyone to easily recognize.
To learn more about WHaMRAT, you can find the entire text of the publication of text can be found on The National Press website titled “Applying an SMS approach to Wildlife Hazard Management”. Or fill out the contact fields below and someone from Loomacres will reach out.
One of the reasons why all bird strikes are should be reported in the FAA Strike Database whether or not they cause damage to the aircraft and whatever bird/wildlife species was involved, is that experience of the analysis of bird remains collected after strikes by experts has shown that the species reported as involved are frequently incorrect. Other reasons include:
The information that is commonly sought in a bird strike report includes:
Care must be exercised while interpreting the data collected. For example, an airport with an increasing rate of bird strikes is not necessarily becoming a riskier location. The total number of strikes at an airport, taken in isolation, is not a good indicator of risk; examination of the data by species struck and the distinguishing of multiple from single strikes is critical. If an increase in recorded strikes is attributable to an increase in incidents caused by encounters with single small birds, whereas the number of strikes involving large bird species and/or flocks of birds is falling, then this may well be indicative of both better bird control and better reporting of strikes.
For more information on Strike Reporting or how to report a strike please fill out the fields below and someone from Loomacres Wildlife Management will contact you.