Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Unwelcome wings fly into airport

Mourning doves descend on Friedman tarmac

Express Staff Writer

Friedman Memorial Airport usually has a hearty welcome for winged visitors.

Not these.

The airport is being plagued by mourning doves, which could collide with incoming and outbound aircraft and cause structural damage or, worse, a loss of aircraft control.

So, Friedman and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game have teamed up to shoo off the flocks of doves with several devices.

Airport Manager Rick Baird said the field has two buried propane guns that will automatically fire every 25 seconds between 6:30 and 10 a.m. and between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Baird said the "shots" sound like a shotgun shell being fired.

A feeding source has been installed on the west side of the field, away from the runway and taxiway, to lure the doves. Baird said part of the attraction for doves is the recent grass seeding of safety areas after reconstruction of the runway.

A weed spray is being applied in those areas.

In a statement, Baird said the bothersome presence of the doves could continue for several weeks.

He said airport officials "appreciate the patience of the community and hope that the community recognizes the importance of working diligently to ensure the safety of aircraft, aircraft passengers and the residents surrounding the airport."

Many airports must cope with year-round bird populations nesting near runways, some of the worst being near coastal areas and garbage disposal areas, which attract larger fowl, such as sea gulls. Periodically, bird strikes are reported. One of the major risks is a bird being ingested into a jet engine, which could cause loss of power.

In Florida, one oddball wildlife problem is keeping alligators off airport runways where they have been found sunning themselves.

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