This guest blog post was written by Mike Lazzaroni, who works in our Engineering department as a Senior Planning Analyst.
I signed up for a Wildlife Management lunch and learn with the intent of experiencing a part of the airport I rarely get to see. I went with few expectations, but gained more than I could have imagined.
Departing and arriving aircraft face dangerous consequences if they hit birds that cross their paths. Because of just that, YVR has a comprehensive plan in place to ensure that real birds stay away from metal ones.
Our session started out with a demo of "screamers" and "flares" used to scare birds off the airfield. Some of us had the opportunity to use rifles and pistols to fire a battery of these pyrotechnic projectiles but, alas, a request to borrow them on Halloween night was firmly rejected!
Next, we learned more about the falconry program in place. I recently visited the Singapore Bird Park while on vacation and although that bird park was quite impressive, the raptors I saw at YVR blew me away due to their sense of purpose: to protect the lives of thousands of passengers who depart and arrive on YVR’s runways every year. Here is literally where the rubber meets the road or, in our case, the runway.
Trained falconers employ raptors to ward off flocks of birds from the airfield and away from arriving and departing aircraft. Falconry is an ancient art that involves the use of birds of prey to hunt or, in our case, chase away smaller birds.
Two of the raptors I got to meet were Arrington, the Saker falcon, and Duck, the Harris hawk. I marveled at the level of trust that existed between the falconers and their raptors. Moreover, I was impressed with the humane and environmental efforts that YVR puts into its wildlife program.
Other than employing birds of prey and means to effectively annoy birds off the airfield, various cages are set up to trap larger birds, tag and relocate them, all expenses paid, to the beautiful Fraser Valley. I also met Chaser, a border collie with a love for people and an uncanny ability to chase ducks and geese off YVR’s airfield.