U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

Fall 2011


Human–Wildlife Conflicts 5(2):204–209, Fall 2011


Wildlife-Aircraft collisions (wildlife strikes) pose a serious safety risk to aircraft and cost civil aviation >$614 million annually in the United States (Dale 2009, Dolbeer et al. 2009). Over 89,700 wildlife strikes with civil aircraft were reported to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) during 1990 to 2008 (Dolbeer et al. 2009). Aircraft collisions with birds accounted for 97% of the reported strikes (Dolbeer et al. 2009). Gulls (Larus spp.), waterfowl, such as Canada geese (Branta canadensis), raptors (hawks and owls), blackbirds, and European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are the species of most concern at airports (Dolbeer et al. 2000, Dolbeer and Wright 2009). Analyzing information from the FAA’s National Wildlife Strike Database regarding wildlife strikes with civil aircraft, Dolbeer (2006) found that 74% of all wildlife strikes were at altitudes of ≤125 m above ground level (AGL) and suggested that most wildlife strikes occur within the airport environment. Sound management techniques that reduce bird numbers in and around airports are therefore critical for safe airport operations.

Large-scale killing of birds to solve conflicts oft en is undesirable or impractical (Dolbeer 1986, Dolbeer et al. 1997). Nonlethal frightening techniques to keep birds away from airports are available (Marsh et al. 1991, Cleary 1994), but they can be cost-prohibitive or only temporarily effective (Dolbeer et al. 1995, Washburn et al. 2006, Baxter and Allan 2008). Habitat management within airport environments is the most important long-term component of an integrated approach to reduce the use of airfields by birds and mammals that pose hazards to aviation (Transport Canada 1994, Washburn and Seamans 2004, Cleary and Dolbeer 2005, Washburn et al. 2007).