Date of this Version
DeVault, T.L., and B.E. Washburn. Identification and management of wildlife food resources at airports. In: T.L. Devault, B.F. Blackwell, and J.L. Belant, editors. Wildlife in Airport Environments: Preventing Animal-Aircraft Collisions through Science-Based Management. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore Maryland, in association with The Wildlife Society. 79-90.
Wildlife use airport habitats for a variety of reasons, including breeding, raising young, resting, taking refuge from predators, and locating sources of water. But the chief motivation for most individuals to encroach on airports is food. Depending on the specine habitat types present and habitat management strategies employed, airports can harhor large numbers of small mammals, insects, earthworms, and palatable vegetation that attract many species hazardous to aircraft. Often the best way to reduce populations of hazardous wildlife at airports is to determine which SOurces of food are being used, and then remove or modify those foods to make them less attractive (Washburn et al. 2011). Fortunately, the science of wildlife ecology and management has a long and productive history of research on wildlife food habits and foraging strategies, and the applied nature of most food habit studies conducted in airport environments facilitates straightforward specialization of investigational techniques. In this chapter we (1) discuss in more detail food resources as a primary motivation for wildlife use of airport properties, (2) consider some established principles of wildlife food habits and foraging strategies that affect airport wildlife management, (3) review techniques used to investigate wildlife food habits and identify those most useful for airports, (4) discuss methods for eliminating or modifying some preferred foods at airports, and (5) briefly consider future research needs.