Preventing bird hazards at local airports

January 15, 2009 6:33:23 PM PST
All three Bay Area airports have taken steps to deal with birds that pose a potential hazard to planes. Oakland International Airport has such a problem with wild Canadian geese, it takes extra precautions and steps to ensure the safety of its flights.

Canadian geese and other wildlife crashing into airplane engines is a very serious concern for the Oakland airport because of its proximity to San Francisco Bay. It is also unique in that there are 2,500 acres of land there with substantial wetlands and wildlife habitats. So birds are very much attracted to this airfield, including Canadian geese.

The airport has a $250,000 contract with the USDA's wildlife service. They provide two full-time staff to monitor the birdlife.

Airport spokesperson Rosemary Barnes explains their goal. "Scaring away birds, other wildlife that feed on one another, that food chain, and making sure those hotspots are done away with so birds are not attracted to our air field."

The Oakland airport is the only one in the Bay Area that contracts with the USDA for a wildlife management plan. San Francisco International has its own people monitoring the birds. San Jose International also uses its own staff.

So they all take this potential problem very seriously, but especially in Oakland where the wetlands pose more of a problem.