Date of this Version
Bird strikes to aircraft are a serious economic and safety problem in the United States, annually causing millions of dollars in damage to civilian and military aircraft and the occasional loss of human life. We observed movements of 1236 neckbanded lesser Canada geese (Branta canadensis parvipes) to determine efficacy of hazing as a means to reduce goose presence at Elmendorf Air Force Base (EAFB), Anchorage, Alaska from August to October 1997. Emphasis was on movements of geese onto EAFB with additional data collected at the other two major airports in the area, Anchorage International Airport (AIA) and Merrill Field Airport (MFA). Daily observations indicated the presence of 208 individual neckbanded geese on EAFB, and 20% returned more than once after being hazed from EAFB. We identified three staging areas, geese utilized prior to entering EAFB, and three post-hazing dispersal sites. Collared geese began moving onto EAFB 30-40 days post-molt with the largest proportions moving onto EAFB 70-90 days post-molt. We observed 75 neckbanded geese on AIA from seven molting sites, and 23% returned more than once after being hazed from AIA. We observed 141 neckbanded geese on MFA from 14 molting sites, and 21% returned more than once after being hazed from MFA. Our data indicated that as long as local goose populations increase, large numbers of Anchorage area geese are likely to enter one of the airports creating a variety of management problems. Hazed geese returning to airports multiple times present a special hazard to aircraft safety because they appear to have become habituated to non-lethal scare tactics. We recommend an integrated management approach to limit the Anchorage area goose population utilizing various control techniques which are acceptable to Anchorage residents while continuing the hazing program at area airports.