Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version



Proceedings Ninth Bird Control Seminar, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, October 4-6, 1983. Ed. William B. Jackson and Beth Jackson Dodd


Copyright © 1983 F. Nelson Swink


I am not going to talk about the past history of bird problems and the aviation industry; we're pretty well aware of what has happened. It was in 1960 that the U.S. really got some awareness because of the crash at Boston's Logan Airport. Following that was the first Fish and Wildlife Service involvement in bird problems at airports. For a number of years thereafter, the Fish and Wildlife Service Center at Laurel, Maryland had at least one staff biologist working with the FAA and specific airports to try and resolve their problems. Following the 1975 Canada incident with a DC-10 and gulls, the FAA came to the Service and said, "Don't you think it is about time that we formalize the arrangement we had for your providing assistance upon request?" This was culminated by the signing of an agreement. It was a very simple, two-page brief, which says that the Service will provide assistance to the FAA upon request. That means that we are not going to go out and solicit work. There has been a lot of discussion within the Fish and Wildlife Service itself. The question that is always raised by our field people is, "What happens if I am driving by this airport and I see 350 seagulls sitting at the end of the runway, and I do not go in and say something to the area manager? Am I liable?" I do not know whether he is liable, but he sure is derelict in his duty if he does not go in there and tell the airport manager that he has a problem. Most of them go out and say, "Hey, that is not my problem." OK, there is another way. Get hold of the FAA regional office and tell them of the situation. Hopefully, they will suggest to the airport and the airport management that something be done. People ask how big a problem this is. Let us talk about airports in the U.S. There are 14,000 airports in the U.S. Of this approximately 900 are certified airports; that means they have an air carrier section. The rest of them are general aviation airports, and I am not counting the military airports here. I think in terms of financial loss to birds and other vertebrate pest problems: in the U.S., at the very minimum, $20,000,000 annually. I suspect it is closer to one hundred million dollars, if the truth be known. Why is not the truth known? We have already discussed that. Airlines are very reluctant to say, "Hey, I got hit by a bird, or I plowed into a deer."