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YVR Wildlife Management Program

YVR is committed to ensuring safe aircraft operations and conserving the wildlife we share the skies and land with. This is why we have one of the most dynamic airport wildlife management programs in the world. We work with environmental stewardship top of mind across all aspects of our wildlife management activities and with respect for the traditional lands of Musqueam Indian Band, on whose territory YVR operates.

Commitment to Passenger Safety and Sustainability

Safety is at the forefront of everything we do at YVR, and unmanaged wildlife can pose a significant safety risk to aircraft. This is why we work tirelessly to find the right balance that ensures the safety of our airfield, surrounding land, and airspace, and protects the natural environment on Sea Island. Our Wildlife Management Program adheres to federal regulations requiring effective wildlife management in aviation spaces to keep passengers safe.

A Longstanding Approach Backed by Science and Stewardship

Led by a team of scientific experts including certified wildlife biologists and professional agrologists and our partnership with Musqueam, YVR has a longstanding and ongoing commitment to humane and safe wildlife management on Sea Island, and this includes habitat and vegetation management. For over 30 years, YVR have acted as responsible stewards of the land on which we operate, taking care and consideration into how we manage all wildlife, including invasive species.

When possible, we make every effort to work with animal rehabilitation organizations to re-locate wildlife needing to be removed from Sea Island as part of our duty to ensure airfield safety is maintained. We operate a successful raptor trap and translocation program, where we capture wild raptors, and move them safely to habitats away from the airport.

Our Diverse Environment

YVR is located on Sea Island in the mouth of the Fraser River, one of the largest estuaries on the west coast of North America. We coexist with a unique and rich habitat of local wildlife, birds, and plant species.

The foreshores, marshes and upland agricultural habitats of the Fraser delta make the area an important staging and wintering area for millions of both migratory and non-migratory birds, many of them federally and provincially protected species. These include Snow Geese, Short-eared Owls. Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons and Barn Swallows.

Other species that can be found on and around Sea Island are coyotes, skunks, river otter and raccoons. These populations are consistently monitored to ensure they do not impede airfield safety.

We take an active approach to managing the diverse environment of Sea Island to ensure the safety of aircraft operations and wildlife. Our habitat management practices include investing in drainage infrastructure, to ensure pooling water doesn’t unnecessarily attract wildlife to the area. We also manage the vegetation, which includes planting grass species that are low value for wildlife and removing invasive plants.

Wildlife Patrols—24/7

YVR is Canada’s second busiest airport which means our wildlife management program operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While wildlife can sometimes exist peacefully in other urban settings, they can pose a significant risk to airfield and passenger safety with their proximity to runways and taxi areas. Given our unique position at the mouth of the Fraser River, the proximity of wildlife to YVR, particularly seasonally abundant migratory birds, can pose a hazard to the safety and efficiency of airport operations.

Armed with a deep understanding of wildlife ecology, the partnership of the Musqueam on whose territory YVR operates, and a suite of non-lethal tools for managing wildlife, the YVR Wildlife Team patrols the airfield year-round. We use a wide range of methods including specially trained dogs, falconry, pyrotechnics, lasers, and other noise-making tools to scare and disperse potentially hazardous wildlife. We maintain situational awareness and tracking of wildlife using a specialized avian radar system.

Considerations to permanently remove wildlife only happen when all non-lethal means of control have been ineffective, or wildlife demonstrates behaviour that is likely to result in a collision with aircraft, which could put passenger safety at risk.

Invasive Species on Sea Island

The wildlife, birds, and plant species indigenous to the environment around Sea Island exist in a delicate balance. Invasive species, those that are not indigenous, or native, to the ecosystem at YVR, can cause significant issues. Major invasive species like the European rabbit increase the likelihood of attracting predatory birds into active airspace, as the rabbits become a key food source for those birds, and coyotes.

Allowing invasive species to make Sea Island their home in an unmanaged way poses potential safety hazards, not only to the animals themselves but to native species as well. YVRs wildlife management teams follow humane and carefully planned removals of invasive species throughout the year.

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