Natural Habitat Management
Through YVR’s Natural Habitat Management Program, we strive to protect important ecosystem values and functions while proactively managing wildlife hazards. We lease 1,340 hectares of land on Sea Island and are responsible for striking a balance between safe airport operations, wildlife control and environmental protection. We have developed a habitat enhancement program to identify opportunities to improve aquatic habitats and in 2016 we made great progress towards protecting and enhancing biodiversity and ecological health.
We constantly improve our landscaping practices, which include the types of grasses we use airside and larger plantings we use as features. In 2016, we researched possible native plant species replacement choices that would reduce the need for watering, repel invasive plant species and keep our runways clear of birds.
Invasive Species and Pest Management
We created an Integrated Pest Management Plan, which will limit the airport’s impact on biodiversity by committing to key principles: identifying pests and invasive species, using ecological approaches to pest management, using accepted best practices and using a risk-based approach. Under this plan, we aim to reduce the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides and will continue identifying and removing invasive plants from airport lands, controlling the spread of Japanese knotweed and Giant Hogweed.
Contributions to Conservation
We constantly seek to restore natural habitats and we work with our neighbours to minimize any impacts to existing wildlife. There are currently no known International Union for
Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red-Listed species with critical habitat on airport land.YVR coordinates and sponsors the annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup in cooperation with the Vancouver Aquarium on Sea Island at Iona Beach. And as part of the habitat compensation project related to the North Runway construction, YVR supports the Delta Farmland & Wildlife Trust to plant winter cover crops south of the airport to feed migrating waterfowl.
YVR is located on a migratory bird path and as a result we have a responsibility to ensure safe aircraft operations while conserving wildlife. We use limited pesticides to reduce bird-attracting insects and the YVR Wildlife Team patrols the airfield year-round, using lethal and non-lethal methods—trained dogs, pyrotechnics, sirens, falconry, trapping and translocation, lasers and stock whips—to scare and disperse hazardous wildlife. In 2016 the Wildlife Team began using new, non-lethal pyrotechnics, with a range of up to 10 times greater than our previous versions. This improved capability has allowed us to manage birds at greater distances, increasing our effectiveness.
During 2016, we moved 1,032,913 birds away from aircraft operating areas using active control techniques and we safely captured and released 142 raptors—including Red-tailed Hawks, Great-horned Owls and Coopers Hawks—through our Raptor Trap & Translocation Program. This program is a leader in collecting re-sighting data on translocated raptors, providing YVR with a better understanding of risk and raptor ecology.
In 2016, there were 225 bird strike incidents, a slight increase over 2015. These bird strikes included 268 birds struck by aircraft, a decrease from 2015. To maintain safe aircraft operations, the Airport Authority uses lethal control when necessary and in 2016 killed 305 birds, an increase from 212 in 2015.
We deter coyotes from entering the airfield through a variety of methods including buried fences and grated culverts. Our wildlife team monitors the perimeter fence year-round to minimize the risk of coyotes accessing the airfield and uses a range of methods to scare them away from runways. The Airport Authority uses lethal control when necessary and in 2016 culled five coyotes.