Airport Business

JUN-JUL 2018

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24 airportbusiness June/July 2018 WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT By Joe Petrie A Tame Approach to Your Airfield Wildlife Wildlife issues can be addressed with access to resources and working with your community. At the North Little Rock Airport (ORK) in North Little Rock, Arkansas, staff faces a variety of challenges with wildlife. Clay Rogers, director of ORK, said the airport occupies about 800 acres of land, with a couple hundred of which it wooded. This provides habitat for deer, birds and coyotes. "We even have an issue with beavers damming up the drainage system and building up ponds that are attracting the deer from the wooded area to the heavier brush area," he said. "So wildlife is a pretty constant headache." Rogers said there hasn't been a deer strike while he has been at ORK, but they have happened in the past. With the animals on the airfield, there's always a concern about it happening. "We recently had an episode with deer on the runway and a member of the FAA safety team that flies out of here sometimes was taxiing and about to take off and there were deer on the runway," he said. "She tried to go by them and rev up the engine, but it didn't seem to faze them so she was going to go to the other runway and they just migrated to the other side when she was going to take off there. They seem to be less afraid of people and air traffic noise." ORK is trying to clear out a marshy area of the airfield to mitigate the wildlife issue. Rogers said they want to cut it short enough to maintain it with a Bush Hog so it deters deer. Rogers said the airport has worked with a consultant and the Army Corps. of Engineers to make sure the area is not a delineated wetland or stream know as a part of the waters of the U.S. Joel Ward of Lyrata Consulting LLC, of Mayflower, Arkansas performed the consulting work. "The deer are crossing from the wooded area to wetland/grassy area to lay down and get water," he said. "And we aren't able to clear that until it gets OK'd by the Army Corps. of Engineers, which is an incredibly slow process." Rogers said he doesn't expect the change to solve all the issues if it's approved, but it will give deer less of a reason to cross the runway and keep them back in the wooded area of the airfield. ORK obtained a wildlife degradation permit through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, but the airport is surrounded by neighborhoods, so Rogers said deer can only be shot from specific directions in specific areas. He said the airport has looked at fencing, but the area is very large so to build something large enough would be cost prohibitive. Rogers said ORK has deer cameras set up to monitor the wildlife and see what efforts are working or not keeping them back in the woods. "If our maintenance guy sees deer or coyote while he's out mowing he tries to go by them and scare them off back into the woods," Rogers said. "We have multiple deer feeders back in the woods that we try to keep them deeper in the woods away from the runways. The airport also has an issue with coyotes chewing on equipment. The animals are chewing North Little Rock Airport's challenge with coyotes includes fixing damages cables the animals have chewed on. Clay Rogers

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