Natural Habitat Management
Through YVR’s Natural Habitat Management Program, we strive to protect important ecosystems 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. In 2017 we made progress developing a habitat enhancement plan for Sea Island.
We constantly improve our landscaping practices. In 2017, we performed a Drought Tolerant Landscape Management Study. This study focused on the reduction of potable water use in the landscaped areas through the elimination, improvement or reduction of irrigation. We surveyed landscaped areas, inventoried vegetation and identified opportunities for future landscaping. We also developed a drought-tolerant plant list, with a focus on native plants.
Invasive Species and Pest Management
We implemented our new Integrated Pest Management Plan, which aims to use ecological approaches for pest management. Under this plan, we will reduce chemical herbicides and pesticides and will continue identifying and removing invasive plants from airport lands. We conducted an invasive plant survey in the summer, which will help with the management of regionally identified invasive plants. In addition, we provided a training workshop to YVR employees and contractors, focused on identification and best practices.
Contributions to Conservation
We constantly seek to restore natural habitats and we work with our neighbours to minimize any impacts to existing wildlife. There is 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. As part of the habitat conservation project related to the North Runway construction, YVR also 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 are always working on new and innovative solutions to manage the unique wildlife environment in which YVR is situated. We use limited pesticides to reduce bird-attracting insects and we patrol the airfield year-round, using lethal and non-lethal methods to scare and disperse wildlife. During 2017, we moved 1,517,228 animals away from aircraft and we safely captured, relocated and released 174 raptors.
The Fraser River delta is home to the highest density of wintering raptors in Canada. To manage this density, we operate a successful Raptor Trap & Translocation Program. Once captured, the birds are tagged with a unique numbered leg band and translocated to the east, away from YVR. Special wing tags on the larger hawks help us understand the movement of the birds. This has been a great success, with over 864 raptors captured since 2010. With help from members of the public, data collected concludes that there were more than 260 observers submitting more than 470 observations of tagged hawks. Sightings of raptors tagged at YVR are reported throughout the Lower Mainland including Abbottsford, Chilliwack, Langley, Richmond and Delta. These sightings confirm the survival of tagged raptors that have been translocated and illustrate that removal helps to keep raptors away from the airport.
In 2017, there were 217 wildlife strike incidents. During these incidents, a total of 311 birds were confirmed struck, as well as three bats. In order to maintain safe aircraft operations, we use lethal control when necessary and in 2017 killed 410 birds and four coyotes, an increase from 305 animals (300 birds and five coyotes) in 2016. This increase was due to an elevated risk posed by flocking waterfowl, specifically dabbling ducks.