Dayton Airport experiments with Natural Barriers to Wildlife: Great Aviation Safety Gain?

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Unfortunately wildlife and aircraft do not share the air well with no blame on either party. The planting of prairie grass (see above picture) on airports may solve this cantankerous conflict.

The issue of airport safety and the hazards posed by wildlife was highlighted as a problem for aircraft by the Miracle on the Hudson. The Aviation Cooperative Research Program has provided some great insights on techniques which protect both the airplanes and the birds. This is a problem in which locally designed solutions to particular breeds and environments are more likely to produce good results than absolute pronouncements from Washington.

In this context, the below article is a prime example of how the Dayton Airport management has found a natural barrier to the large risk of geese grazing on the airfield. Terrence G. Slaybaugh, director of Dayton’s airport and Charity Krueger, executive director of the Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm worked together to come to a natural fix to this vexatious problem. The “homeopathic” theory of this natural remedy is that geese do not like landing in prairie grass; because the height of the cover precludes the birds from seeing whether predators may be in the field.

The vegetation also prevents water runoff, consumes carbon dioxide out of the air and only requires only one mowing every three years. Conversely, the deeper cover may attract rodents and in turn, such prey may cause raptors to flock to the field. It is still a test. The thorough article also mentions other actions which the Dayton Airport management is taking to reduce the airport’s attractiveness to birds (e.g. lighting fixtures which are not good perches for birds.

It will be interesting to see the results of this experiment.

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