Regional Illinois Airports Prioritize Wildlife Safety
Staff from DuPage Airport (DPA) in West Chicago, Joliet Regional Airport, DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport, the Greater Kankakee Airport, Central Illinois Regional Airport at Bloomington-Normal, Lake in the Hills Airport and Chicago Executive Airport, in Wheeling, took part in a wildlife hazards seminar at DPA conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The seminar is required to comply with annual training requirements set forth under the FAA-approved Wildlife Hazard Management Plan.
“Safety is our number one priority here at the airport, but wildlife and natural surroundings are an important component of our ecosystem,” says David Bird, executive director of the DuPage Airport Authority (DAA). “This seminar provided all attendees with both a good understanding of strategies for keeping animals away from danger, as well as how wildlife aviation incidents can be reduced.”
With more than 3,000 acres of land at the DuPage Airport, wildlife is omnipresent. Protection and preservation of natural wildlife by the DAA is a year-round goal, and critical steps are regularly taken to help prevent wildlife aviation incidents by modifying food, water and sheltering resources through several diverse initiatives. Recently, the DAA invested more than $850,000 in installing more than two miles of wildlife perimeter fencing with a buried chain-link skirt to safely prevent coyotes, foxes and rodents from digging under the fence and into the active airfield. The DAA plans to continue installation of the wildlife skirt throughout the remaining six miles of airfield fencing.
According to the FAA, birds account for 97 percent of wildlife aviation incidents, and mammals the other 3 percent. Whether it’s a plane encountering a flock of birds or coyotes wandering near a runway, wildlife hazards can pose dangerous threats to pilots/passengers, airplanes and equipment.
Airports must take a proactive stance in protecting species and mitigating the potential for wildlife strikes at or near the airport. This might mean safely altering habitats in a manner that deters birds and other mammals from wanting to make their home near the airport, or implementing innovative mechanisms that keep wildlife away.