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January 11, 2013 04:55 PM

Preventing Geese From Invading Airspace

Sioux Falls, SD

Sioux Falls Regional Airport is concerned the growing goose population within the city could cross paths with its airplanes.  The airport saw a couple of cases where geese clipped the wings of aircraft over the past year, but nobody was hurt and there was very little damage.  The airport has a flight plan to keep any wayward geese grounded.

Sioux Falls Regional Airport wants to make sure aircraft aren't on a collision course with the Canada geese wintering just beyond the runway.

"Across the country, the goose population continues to increase, and it's more of a concern for every airport in every community in the country, including Sioux Falls," Sioux Falls Regional Airport Executive Director Dan Letellier said.

More and more geese are taking advantage of the mild weather and open water by making Sioux Falls their permanent home instead of migrating south for the winter.
"It will be a problem year-round," Letellier said.

A big enough flock will even show up on the airport radar.

"And the air traffic control tower, if they see geese or migrating geese in the area, they'll alert flight crews to be on the watch," Letellier said.

One way to put some distance between the geese and the airport is a process called 'hazing,' getting the geese to move along by scaring them away with loud noises, like a shotgun blast.

"They like it nice and calm and plenty to eat and rest and sleep.  So when you go and hassle them, make loud noises, basically move them out of their area, you do that a few times, it's amazing how they'll find another place where they're not bothered," Letellier said.

What's a hassle for the gaggle could prevent bird strikes in the future.

For years, the airport used a dog named Suzy to chase any geese from the airport grounds.   But Suzy died and there are no plans yet to replace her.

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