Local News

Wildlife threats a part of airport's security plan

Posted August 20, 2010 10:20 p.m. EDT
Updated August 21, 2010 11:03 a.m. EDT

The best security at Raleigh-Durham International Airport can’t keep out a familiar foe. Officials there are again trying to rid the property of coyotes.

“Over the last week, we have had about two or three sightings of coyotes around our property,” said Mindy Hamlin, a spokeswoman for the airport.

It’s the second time in a year coyotes have breached the miles of barbed-wire fence that encircle the airport’s 5,000-acre property.

In October 2009, a coyote was hit by a plane on the taxi way. The plane wasn’t damaged, but airport authorities want to prevent such close calls.

“The airport authority does have a wildlife management program in place, and we do implement that every year, every day,” Hamlin said.

The policy includes checking the fence lines for signs of digging and keeping the grass cut low in order to discourage rodents and other animals that coyotes feed on.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been called in to trap the coyotes that get through.

“Wildlife and aircraft don't mix,” Hamlin said. “It is the responsibility of the airport authority to keep wildlife off of the runways.”

Coyotes are a relatively new problem for the airport. They prefer less-populated, less-noisy areas.

Birds, which are a problem at other airports, are not an issue in the Triangle, Hamlin said.

“We are pretty lucky. Even though we do have geese around here, we do not have a big problem with geese. We do have some small birds that do fly around, but we are able to keep those under control through our different programs that we have in place,” she said.

The airport used pyrotechnics to scare off the birds as part of the overall wildlife management plan.

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