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Local airport has program targeting birds and animals

Tupelo (Drew Powell, WTVA)
Tupelo (Drew Powell, WTVA)
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Updated: 1/15 7:45 pm
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) — It was on January 15, 2009, when a U.S. Airways plane landed in the Hudson River in New York right after takeoff as a result of a bird strike.

At the Tupelo Regional Airport, there is a system in place to make sure birds or wild animals on the runway or on airport grounds are reported immediately.

"If there is a bird strike, first thing you do is contact the tower and let them know that you've had an incident on the runway," said George Smith, the airport's deputy director.

What attracts birds to airports is food, and where that food is found for the birds is in standing water, especially after a heavy rainfall.

"Any water that is around the area will attract them like the lakes we've got to the south end of the field and to the west end of the field," said Smith.

Two years ago, a wildlife biologist conducted an assessment of birds and other animals that make their way onto the airport's grounds.

"We did determine that we have a need for a wildlife mitigation plan in which we will lay out exactly how we'll handle each particular species in each situation that comes up at the airport," said Joshua Abramson, the airport's executive director. "[This way, we] make sure we ensure the safety of everyone that flies in and out of Tupelo airport."

When it comes to combating birds, there are a number of methods used such as noisemakers, bird bangs and propane cannons to scare them away without killing them.

"What most of everything that we exercise is less than lethal," said Abramson. "We always do our best to maintain it that way."

Besides birds, there are stray dogs, coyotes, bobcats and rabbits that do make their way onto the airport grounds. When that situation arises, someone in a truck is dispatched to deal with them.
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