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Keeping Birds Away From Airports

Friday, January 16, 2009

Yesterday's plane crash highlighted the danger birds constantly pose to aircraft. But less known is how hard scientists work to prevent bird-related crashes. WNYC's Arun Venugopal has more.

REPORTER: A big priority right now for investigators is to find out what kind of bird brought the plane down by locating the remains. By determining the species, biologists can make the airport habitat at LaGuardia as unappealing as possible for that particular bird. Mike Linnell is the head of Utah's wildlife services division. He's also on the steering committee for the national Bird Strike Committee.

LINNELL: If it involves something like a Ferruginous Hawk then we're looking for rodents. Are there rodents on that airfield? Can we do something to eliminate that prey base? Can we bait for those rodents or do something to alter our grass-cutting regime so that it's unattractive?

REPORTER: If habitat management fails, authorities may turn to loud fireworks, or propane cannons, or introduce predators to the area. But Linnell says when one species is removed, another is likely to take its place. For WNYC, I'm Arun Venugopal.

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