Date of this Version
Scientific Reports (2023) 13:11602
Exploiting unprecedented reductions in aircraft movements caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we investigated the relationship between air traffic volume and the frequency of wildlife-aircraft collisions, or wildlife strikes, at the 50 largest airports in the United States. During the COVID- 19 months of 2020 (March–December), both air traffic volume and the absolute number of wildlife strikes were reduced. The net effect of these two movements, however, was an increase in the wildlife strike rate from May 2020–September 2020. This increase was found to be most pronounced at airports with larger relative declines in air traffic volume. We concluded that the observed increase in the wildlife strike rate was, at least in part, generated by risk-enhancing changes in wildlife abundance and behavior within the airport environment. That is, wildlife became more abundant and active at airports in response to declines in air traffic volume.
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