Field Station Leader: Dr. Travis L. DeVault
The primary focus of research at the NWRC Ohio Field Station concerns wildlife hazards to aircraft. Aircraft collisions with birds and other wildlife (wildlife strikes) pose a substantial safety and financial threat to civil and military aviation worldwide. The estimated cost (direct and indirect expenses) to civil aviation worldwide is over $1.2 billion annually. In the U.S. alone, 89,727 wildlife strikes (97.4% involving birds) were reported to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA; 1990-2008) and represent a maximum of U.S. $603.7 million annually in direct and indirect losses. Recent estimates indicate that the U.S. military incurs losses of over $100 million each year. Wildlife strikes have claimed over 219 lives and over 200 aircraft (civil and military) since 1988. As one dramatic example, in 1995 a U.S. Air Force $190 million AWACS plane crashed, resulting in the death of 24 crewmembers and the destruction of the plane after the aircraft hit geese on take-off at Elmendorf Air Force Base, AL. The "forced landing" of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River on 15 January 2009 after Canada geese were ingested in both engines on the Airbus 320 demonstrated to the public at large that bird strikes are a grave concern to aviation safety.
The National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) Ohio Field Station, established in 1968, is located 4 miles south of Sandusky, OH, and Lake Erie at Plum Brook Station, a 6,000-acre, fenced facility in Erie County operated by Glenn Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration ( NASA). The restricted facility contains native grassland, reverted farmland, marsh, and woodland adjacent to intensively farmed land and urban settings outside the fence. Abundant wildlife populations can be found on the facility; for example, the deer population inside the fence often exceeds 2,000 individuals. The field station also leases from NASA 40 acres of farmland immediately outside the fence for wildlife damage studies.
Further information about the research conducted at the Sandusky, OH field station can be found on the Development of Management Strategies to Reduce Wildlife Hazards to Aircraft Research Project page.
Field Station Research Staff:
Travis L. DeVault, Research Wildlife Biologist, Field Station Project Leader