I received a news release from Ducks Unlimited this morning that brings up some pretty interesting points about airplane/bird strikes.
Airport planners need to consult with wildlife managers BEFORE building facilities.
Better planning and cooperation can reduce plane/bird strikes, says Dale Humburg, chief biologist for Ducks Unlimited. His remarks come after the Federal Aviation Administration made their database of bird strikes available to the public last week. The database shows that bird strikes were twice as common around larger airports.
“Bird strikes are due in part to airports being built in high-migration areas for spring and wintering waterfowl,” says Humburg. “Ducks Unlimited encourages communities to consider both migratory birds and resident waterfowl and bird populations when weighing options for new or expanded airfields.”
Ducks Unlimited was part of a coalition that prevented a U.S. Navy landing field in North Carolina from being built next to a National Wildlife Refuge, where aircraft flying over bird habitat have presented a danger to airmen and local communities. After studying the bird strike threat, the Pentagon revised its plans.
While the FAA’s database does not discriminate between migratory and resident bird populations, the increased presence of year-round food sources near airports and other development areas encourages birds to become permanent residents in an area and cease to migrate as other birds do. These resident birds can pose a threat to aircraft year-round, not just during peak migration times for other birds.
“Birds and other wildlife are dependent on habitat that is increasingly being fragmented throughout the country,” Humburg explains. “Coordinating with wildlife experts on the abundance of birds in particular areas can help reduce these strikes in the future as well.”
END OF DUCKS UNLIMITED NEWS RELEASE
Some other thoughts of my own:
The above suggestions are good for dealing with new airports to make sure they are not constructed in bird migration areas, or in areas where there are a lot of permanent bird residents.
The FAA should also put together a select team of bird experts from around the country to study the problem of airplanes and bird strikes and to try and come up with ways to lower these strikes at airports that already exist and are listed on the FAA’s database of bird strikes.
The database shows the FAA knows where the problems are. OK, now fix them.
Some airports may need to be moved. New and more effective and humane ways to redirect birds away from runways must be created. They can do this. /Gary