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


Date of this Version

April 2004




Wildlife-aircraft collisions (wildlife strikes) pose a serious safety risk to aircraft. Wildlife strikes cost civil and military aviation at least S490 million annually in the United States (Cleary et al. [I]). Over 46,500 wildlife strikes with civil aircraft were reported to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) during 1990-2002 (Cleary et al. 111). Aircraft collisions with birds accounted for 97% of the reported strikes, whereas strikes with mammals and reptiles were 3% and Larus spp.), waterfowl such as Canada geese (Branta canadensis), raptors (hawks and owls), and blackbirds (Ictennae)/starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) are the species presently of most concern at airports (Dolbeer et al. [3], Cleary et al. [I]). Sound management techniques that reduce bird numbers in and around airports are therefore critical for safe airport operations.

Large-scale lethal control efforts to solve wildlife-aviation conflicts are often undesirable or impractical (Dolbeer [4], Dolbeer [5]). Nonlethal frightening techniques to keep birds and other hazardous wildlife away from airports (e.g., pyrotechnics, propane cannon exploders, acoustical devices) are available (Marsh et al. [6], Cleary [7]), but may be untested, only temporarily effective, or cost-prohibitive (Dolbeer et al. [8]). Modifying and managing habitats within airport environments is the most important long-term component of an integrated wildlife damage management approach to reduce the use of airfields by birds and mammals that pose hazards to aviation.

Traditional grassland habitat management practices, such as disking, prescribed burning, and planting food plots, are conducted to benefit wildlife by providing food, cover, water, loafing areas, or other necessities (Bolen and Robinson [9]). In contrast, the focus of habitat management efforts on airfields should be to develop and maintain habitats that are unattractive to wildlife species hazardous to aviation.