HILL AIR FORCE BASE — In the ongoing effort to improve flight safety, the 75th Air Base Wing Safety Office has purchased a chemical bird control fogger to repel birds from critical areas on and near the flight line.
Chemical bird control fogging, or bird hazing, is an effective method of bird control. Hill’s new fogger uses a chemical called methyl anthranilate, the grape flavoring often used in beverages the also acts as a bird repellent. The chemical, which is harmless to people, animals, plants and birds, coats insects in the grass fields by the runway, making them undesirable for birds looking for a tasty treat.
“During the peak of summer, when walking through the infield there will be a tidal wave of grasshoppers hopping in front of you. These grasshoppers attract many different types of birds looking to feast. Doing several grasshopper surveys showed that there was an average of one grasshopper per square inch,” said Tyler Adams, a wildlife biologist. “The fogger blankets an area, coating insects and forage with a chemical that’s an irritant to birds. Using the fogger with the chemical will likely reduce the appeal of our infield and encourage the birds to go elsewhere to feed.”
When bird levels are high around an airfield, it poses a flight safety risk because aircraft can’t take off and risk hitting the birds.
“When the bird traffic is heavy and they are resistant to our conventional means of harassment we can get a line of aircraft waiting to take off,” Adams said. “Having an additional tool that helps target the source of the birds reason for being here will greatly help us in doing our part to ensure missions are accomplished efficiently.”
The fogger cost around $5,000 and was purchased through Squadron Innovation Funds, which directly support innovative ideas pitched by Airmen. The SIF program gives units the power to problem solve and make incremental, cutting-edge technological improvements without the having to rely on approval from leadership at the Pentagon.
The fogger augments the safety team’s Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard program, which aims to preserve of warfighting capabilities through the reduction of hazards to aircraft operations. Other means of controlling the bird population is removing insects through insecticides, using pyrotechnics to scare birds away, trap and relocate, and, as a last resort, employing lethal take and removal efforts.