Lawton_Thursday's plane crash in New York could have been deadly but for the skill of the pilot. But, how do our local airports deal with bird problems? While larger airports have machines that detect birds, the Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport does not. They know birds are a big problem, so there are things they do to keep them away from airplanes.
Many where shocked when they learned that birds were to blame for Thursday's plane crash, and Regional Airport Manager Barbara McNally ensures travelers that there are ongoing procedures at the airport to help protect passengers. "Wildlife management is one of the top priorities that the FAA has for airports," she said. She says the priority the airport has is more than only watching to see if animals are near the airport property. "We keep the grass really short not to attract rodents that might attract birds," she said.
The Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport also has a process they cannot do alone. "The city landfill is our partner in these bird mitigation procedures that we have in place," said McNally. The landfill only four miles away from the airport, and since they deal with trash, it's a popular place for birds to gravitate toward. If the birds do make it onto airport property, it has procedures in place. "We do noise making procedures," she said. "We have shotgun shells, and we have propane cannons, so it is an ongoing process."
If a bird issue ever becomes a problem, there is a federal permit that can help. "It s a depredation permit that we are able to kill a certain amount of birds - to be able to shoot them - and that is in extreme situations that we have to do that," McNally said.
While shooting birds may seem cruel, it is for the safety of passengers. In Lawton, there is a large wildlife population. McNally says the airport also keeps track of other types of animals, such as deer, coyote, and bobcats. They do their best to ensure that all forms of wildlife that could interfere with a safe flight stay off of airport property.
Altus Air Force Base says they control bird population there by taking those same procedures.