Planning Construction and Development Activities with

Airport Wildlife Hazards in Mind

Construction projects on and near airports have the potential to create wildlife attracting habitat. These attractants may increase the hazardous wildlife activity near the airfield. FAA Advisory Circular 150/5200-33B advises airports against the creation of specific wildlife attracting habitats within certain separation zones to reduce the potential of increasing the presence of hazardous wildlife near the airfield. However, airports should also be aware that a variety of other types of construction projects on and near the airfield can still attract hazardous wildlife. In addition, buildings can also become an attractant.

 

..Standing Water due to poorly graded surface

 

Any construction project proposed to take place on an airfield should be evaluated by a qualified airport wildlife biologist to ensure that the proposed project does not create any wildlife attracting habitat. Projects that are both large and small in scale can often overlook the development of some type of wildlife attractant. Potential attractants can include, but are not limited to: the creation of roosting/perching locations; establishment of open water sources in retention basins, drainage ditches or low-lying areas; creation of cover and nesting habitat; and creation of food sources. A qualified airport wildlife biologist can analyze project proposals to identify potential areas that can attract wildlife, and suggest alternatives that reduce the attractiveness of a feature without compromising the entire project.

 

Active construction on the airfield can also increase wildlife activity during and after the actual development of a project. Construction sites often remove vegetative cover, exposing soils. Exposed soils can attract a variety of gulls, killdeer, horned larks and crows to the area searching for food. Removal of vegetative cover can also create low lying areas that can collect water following storm events. Open water sources on an airfield are significant attractants to waterfowl, gulls, shorebirds and wading birds. Airports should establish a monitoring program during construction activities to ensure that wildlife numbers remain at or below background levels during construction. In addition, airports should require that all construction sites have covered trash containers, in so that workers do not inadvertently attract wildlife to trash or other debris.

 

Airports should also actively participate in local zoning boards to monitor and evaluate any potential land development within 5 miles of the airfield. The airport should encourage offsite properties that are being developed be evaluated by a qualified wildlife biologist, especially when developments are located within 10,000 feet of the airport boundaries.

 

Many local, state and federal regulations may contradict the FAA guidelines to reduce attracting habitats on and near airfields. These regulations can cause potential conflicts that may limit the airports ability to maintain a safe flying environment. Airports should still effectively try to reduce or mitigate the development of habitats attracting hazardous wildlife. Any efforts by the airport to request exemptions from regulators that require the introduction of wildlife hazards should be well documented.

 

 

 

Due to faulty planning, installation and project oversight this detention pond turned into a major wildlife attractant. This open water habitat should never have been installed on the airport.

 

The development of buildings or hangars within the perimeter fence can also inadvertently create a major wildlife attractant. Building designs can overlook the creation of perching and nesting locations. Species such as European starlings, house sparrows and rock doves will utilize a variety of man-made habitats, especially building supports or cavities for nesting. Landscaping designs associated with buildings on the land-side of an airport can also create favorable habitat for a variety of bird species. Non-wildlife attracting trees, shrubs and grass species should be utilized whenever possible in a landscape project. For example, selecting a non-fruiting bodied trees or shrubs can reduce the potential for flocking birds in the area.

 

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Bird nest and fecal matter can be more than a hazard to aviation. It can also create an un- sanitary condition in a terminal.

 

 

 

 

Loomacres Wildlife Management offers services to help evaluate construction projects both on and near airports. Services cover several levels of evaluation from simple construction plan review to on-site monitoring and mitigation during active construction. We have also successfully worked with offsite property owners to ensure their projects do not create any hazards. Contact Cody Baciuska cody@loomacres.com, Airport Wildlife Biologist, to discuss how Loomacres can help evaluate future construction plans at your airport. For additional information you can also visit

Airport Wildlife Hazard Project Evaluations