Airport thinking outside the box to prevent bird deaths and conflict

Birds and airplanes don’t mix – and we know that getting rid of either isn’t an option.

So what do we do when birds start calling the vast spaces of land we know as airports home? If you’re the Vancouver International Airport (YVR), you look outside the box.

The Vancouver Sun this week reported that YVR successfully removed over 1,000,000 birds from their property without lethal force in 2015, a significant increase over past years.

“The airport began using a five-metre AirRider 45 hovercraft last year to get intothe marshes off the end of the runway,” wrote the Sun’s Larry Pynn. “Once wildlife crews are close, they employ noisemakersto frighten the geese into moving on.”

This method of hazing bolstered the airports success rate from the previous high of 704,000 birds moved in 2012. The major increase was in part due to a population jump in snow geese, according to the Sun.

In conjunction with the increase in hazing through the use of a hovercraft, the number of birds killed by lethal means drastically reduced – from as many as 564 in 2012 to only 212 for “posing a threat.”

Large birds can cause significant damage to aircrafts and lead to significant public safety issues (such as the passenger plane in New York that was forced to land in the Hudson River after impacting with a flock of geese).

The airport also utilizes trained falcons to harass smaller birds out of harm’s way, and has relocated 548 birds. The increased efforts have had clear results: bird strikes have dropped from as many as 2,010 in 2014 to only 206 in 2015.

The effort and cost behind these methods are not small, and The Fur-Bearers is pleased to see YVR make the investment for non-lethal solutions that benefit everyone – including the birds.

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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