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Mitigating wildlife hazards

The world’s increasingly busy airports face a growing threat of birdstrikes and wildlife hazards, partly due to expanding urban environments and bird populations, but also due to the global growth of airport traffic. Lee Pannett, Director at the Scarecrow Group, reveals how bio-acoustic technology can successfully mitigate the issue.

Mitigating wildlife hazards

REGULATIONS concerning airside bird control differ across the world in terms of what is mandatory and the extent to which practices are then governed by authorities. The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), for example, has published a set of Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) and although not binding, the SARPs recommend that member countries establish a national procedure for aircraft and airport personnel to record birdstrikes. Understanding the importance and the implications of birdstrikes and wildlife hazards remains a major challenge for all airports no matter their size, for ground staff, operations teams and management.

Minimising risk of incidents

To minimise the risk of wildlife-related incidents at airports, operators should be aware of the conditions attracting birds and other animals at their airports. Active wildlife management and bird control can be successfully implemented with dedicated tactics. However, due to the highly adaptable nature of most wildlife species, the risk can never be eliminated, meaning airport personnel need to be carefully trained and well-equipped to manage the ongoing cycle of risk assessment and elimination.

Most birds and wildlife are attracted to the airport environment because the area has something they want. This might be food, water or shelter – for birds, food from the abundance of insects in the grass and terminal building waste; water either in the form of balancing ponds or fresh water puddles on the runway or surrounding areas; security as large predators are actively removed from the site; and finally shelter in hangars or disused aircraft. Additionally, when an airport is undergoing expansion, building work will disturb the ground, bringing insects to the top which can attract additional species.

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