Four birds strike Nellis Aircraft in April, base taking measures to remove wildlife

Four birds strike Nellis Aircraft in April, base taking measures to remove wildlife. 4/19/17 (KNSV)

On an average day at Nellis Airforce Base, 100 aircraft take off on the runways. During training 300 to 400 aircraft take off daily, which means maintaining a balance with nature posing a threat.

A program called Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard, or B.A.S.H, began after birds caused several aircraft to crash, killing airman. According to the Department of Defense collisions between aircraft and birds cause $75 million dollars in damage per year. Data collected since 2000, shows a 550 percent increase in the number of birds residing in the habitat near the base. A reason base safety office is more focused on preventing birds and aircraft from colliding.

Since October 2016, nine birds have hit aircraft, four of those strikes happened this month. While the recent strikes have not cost Nellis Air Force money this fiscal year, last year birds caused $66,000 in total damage. A mallard duck caused $27,000 dollars damage to an A-10.

USDA Wildlife biologist Dean works with the base safety office to reduce and eliminate birds that have established a habitat too close to the runways. Several techniques are used to eliminate their presence including trapping, pyro-techniques, and shooting birds. Lethal methods require permits that are issued by U.S. Fish and Wildlife. With over-population, USDA Wildlife Biologist Dean Pyzick said he is requesting an adjustment to the permits.

Birds are collected after striking aircraft are collected and sent to the Smithsonian. Bird feathers and DNA are used to collect further data on the types of wildlife in the area. This information is then used to reduce habitats and eliminate wildlife living in the area.

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