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Ohio Field Station

                                                                                                Photo by Jenny Washburn 


The primary focus of research at the NWRC Ohio Field Station concerns animal-vehicle collisions, especially 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. Wildlife strikes have claimed over 220 lives and over 230 aircraft since 1988, and cause millions of dollars in damage annually in the U.S. and abroad. 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 NWRC Ohio field station has worked with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. Department of Defense, universities, and WS biologists to develop management strategies to reduce wildlife hazards to aircraft and produce science-based recommendations, policies, and procedures to control hazardous wildlife on airports and other locations where they present a hazard to aviation safety.

Ohio has the highest breeding season population of blackbirds and starlings of any state or province, and marshes along Lake Erie are traditional late-summer congregating places for these birds. One of the largest nesting colonies of herring gulls on the Great Lakes is within 8 miles of the field station. A major proportion of the continental population of ring-billed gulls, a species that along with herring gulls is often involved in safety hazards at airports, concentrates along the south shore of Lake Erie in spring and fall. Large concentrations of fish-eating birds such as double-crested cormorants also congregate on Lake Erie during migration. Thus, considerable field research on birds associated with wildlife damage can be conducted within 60 miles of the field station.


The 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-access 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 can exceed 2,000 individuals. Field station facilities include indoor and outdoor aviaries, several permanent bird-traps, drying and processing rooms for field samples, shop space, a video laboratory for behavioral experiments, a 5-acre fenced pond for waterfowl research, and conference rooms. 

Further information about the research conducted at the Sandusky, OH field station can be found on the research project page (Understanding And Exploiting Wildlife Behavior To Mitigate Wildlife Collisions With Aircraft, Other Vehicles, And Structures).

Contact Information: 
Field Station and Project Leader
National Wildlife Research Center
Ohio Field Station
6100 Columbus Avenue
Sandusky, Ohio 44870
(419) 625-0242
(419) 625-8465 fax

History Feature on the Station

Field Station Research Staff:
Brian Washburn, Research Biologist
Morgan Pfeiffer, Wildlife Biologist 

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