Airport Business

JUN-JUL 2018

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June/July 2018 airportbusiness 25 WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT on wiring and even the silicon joint seals between concrete slabs. "As we've done some concrete work separate to the coyote problem we've been using rubber rather than silicon," Rogers said. "That seems to be helping with the areas that coyotes have been coming out and chewing on." A North Little Rock police officer is in charge of ORK's wildlife degradation permit while off duty. It allows him to hunt the deer, reload the feeders and keep on top of the permits as opposed to the airport needing to handle the issues. "He has been studying beaver trapping and looking at YouTube videos, he has done research on coyote trapping and hunting," Rogers said. "It has been nice to have Lt. Honeycutt focus on that and be in charge of that for me because it can be its own job of moving feeders and cameras and checking the footage and getting deer feed and taking the time to research and study how to handle the animals that he's not already familiar with hunting. ORK also hired a coyote trapper recommended by the game and fish commission. "The airport managers in Arkansas have all been really good about sharing information and helping each other out as an aviation community," Rogers said. There has been a good resource for asking other airports and finding resources for what can help." "He does it in a way that we're comfortable with. He's overly cautious, which we prefer because we want to obviously be overly safe when shooting a gun at them," Rogers said." A PURPLE MARTIN PROBLEM IN TULSA Tulsa International Airport (TUL) found itself with a major challenge in 2017 after thousands of purple martins decided to take up residence at the airport. Donald Wyatt, airfield operations manager with TUL, said the birds normally roost in the downtown area of Tulsa when they migrate to the region in late summer, but for some unknown reason were drawn to the airport in 2017. "We used a lot of pyrotechnics to keep them away from the runway, we tried using lasers," he said. "When they would come in for the evening about 30 minutes to an hour before sunset we'd be out there with numerous ops staff and our biologist out there using pyrotechnics to try and scare them away. "Eventually they would get into the trees and that's where they would stay." The campaign to remove the birds also caused issues with outside groups who Wyatt said thought the airport was trying to harm the birds. He said the airport tried to work with them and share the certified wildlife plan and how the airport was trying to protect aircraft from bird strikes. "We did have a couple bird strikes that were from purple martins," Wyatt said. TUL is gearing up for a potential return of the birds this year. Wyatt said they're preparing pyrotechnic gear and lasers again and the airport has removed some trees. Wyatt said the airport had issues with hawks as well due to a warmer winter. The birds don't continue migrating south when it wasn't getting below freezing enough in Tulsa, so the airport would trap them. The airport is using a new type of screamer with silver sparkles behind it, which Wyatt said has shown the hawks don't like. They also used bird spikes on signs, but those only work with smaller birds. The warm winter also created issues because the ground didn't freeze, so skunks were migrating to the airfield to hunt for grub worms. Skunks then attracted coyotes. "When you remove one, that means there's a hole for another one to come in," he said. Wyatt said TUL is continues to train operations staff on wildlife issues and the airport also contracts with Loomacres Wildlife Management, which provides training with staff. "We're always training, we're always looking for new products," he said. "It's like a cycle. First it's the birds, then the mammals that come in," he said. KEEP THE COMMUNITY ENGAGED John Weller, national wildlife biologist for the FAA, said there's a big challenge with public perception in the management of wildlife at airports. People tend to focus on an incident where an animal is euthanized, so he said they need to do a good job of educating the community of this being a last resort. "Airports are not parks. They are not nature preserves. They are airports," he said. Weller said it's always good from a public relations perspective that everybody understands the wildlife management process. "Literally, 95 percent of all wildlife management is quite boring because it's all about habitat modification," he said. "You want to make those airports and the lands around airports as boring as possible, as unattractive as possible." Weller said he has a four step process to wildlife mitigation he advises new biologists to focus on: modify the habitat to make it less attractive to wildlife; excluding animals using fencing; harass wildlife to scare them into leaving; and removal if they still remain on the property. "Every animal is looking for food or water or cover," he said. "And if they can't find food, water or cover at that airport, they're going to go elsewhere." Weller said birds are still the biggest problem with aircraft strikes, comprising of 97 percent of all strikes. The other three percent are comprised of other mammals, bats and reptiles. Exclusionary devices like bird netting in hangars or keeping them from perching on lights provide proactive management of birds. It also means reactive measures like harassment and removal doesn't need to occur as often. Airports also need to be cognizant of habitat modifications nearby and what it will mean for wildlife. FAA-trained biologists are looking for big attractants of bird habitat outside of the airport within 5 miles of the airport, so it's important airport staff are liaising with the nearby community. "I know that 71 percent of all strikes occur below 500 feet. I know that 84 percent of all strikes occur below 1,500 feet. I also know that when flights are coming in for a landing, all of these commercial airlines are coming in at about a 3 degree glideslope. That means at 5 miles out, they're at 1,500 feet," Weller said. "If we can work with land owners nearby but out of their

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