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What is a Wildlife Strike?

Airplane leaving airport. 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 (Dolbeer and Eschenfelder 2003). For example, 13 of the 14 largest (>8 lbs) bird species in North America have shown significant population increases in the past 30 years. These species include Canada geese, white and brown pelicans, sandhill cranes, wild turkeys, and bald eagles.

What is “snarge”?

Snarge is the residue smeared on a plane after a wildlife strike. If snarge is collected and sent to the Smithsonian Institute's Feather Identification Lab, feather fragments can be used to identify the species involved in some wildlife strikes. For those without significant feather fragment material, DNA can be extracted from the blood and tissue samples to positively identify the animal involved.

Wildlife Strike Database - This is a collaborative effort with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

Wildlife collisions with aircraft cost U.S. civil and military aviation approximately than $950 million annually and pose a serious safety hazard. More than 10,700 wildlife collisions with civil aircraft were reported in FY 2013, with approximately 5,700 strikes reported by military aviation.

Click here for more information about how to collect, ship and report wildlife strikes that occur with civil and military aircraft.

Click here for more information about the Smithsonian Institute's Feather Identification Lab.

Click here for more information about the FAA Wildlife Strike Database



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