Wildlife Services (WS), a program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, provides Federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts that threaten public health and safety. Increased air traffic, urban sprawl, enhanced noise suppression on aircraft, and more concentrated populations of birds and other wildlife at or near airports contribute to wildlife strikes.
WS Research on Airport Wildlife Hazards and Management
National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) scientists conduct research to provide information to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding the mitigation of bird-aircraft strike hazards. NWRC research is focused on understanding the nature of wildlife hazards at airports, developing management tools to reduce those hazards, and providing WS biologists, airport personnel, and FAA officials with information on the latest strategies for controlling wildlife hazards.
What is a wildlife strike?
Strikes are when birds or other animals collide with an airplane. This may occur when the airplane is taking off, landing, or while it is in the air. Wildlife strikes have increased in the past 30 years because of a combination of expanding populations of many wildlife species that are hazardous to aviation and increasing numbers of aircraft movements.
Number of Airports Assisted Annually
In 2009, WS personnel provided 173 staff-years of assistance at 822 airports (612 civil, 120 civil-military joint use, and 90 military) in all 50 U.S. States, 3 U.S. Territories, and 7 foreign countries.
WS biologists estimated that technical or direct management assistance resulted in a reduction, suppression, or prevention of wildlife hazards at 602 (73%) of the 822 airports where some type of assistance was provided. This total included 318 (78%) of the 410 “Part 139”-certificated airports assisted.
Statistics by State
Managing bird and other wildlife hazards at airports is a complex, public-sensitive endeavor involving many species of wildlife governed by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other Federal, State and local regulations. Professional biologists trained in wildlife hazard management at airports assess hazards, provide training, and assist in the development of wildlife hazard management plans in all 50 states.
In recognition of WS’ expertise and accountability, several agencies have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with WS to address wildlife conflicts at airports and military installations.
Wildlife Management Hazards at Airports
The Wildlife Hazard Management at Airports Program Data Report has been developed to provide the public with information about WS’ wildlife damage management activities at airports.