Dog keeps birds off the airfield in Florida

by Darren Jamieson on November 6, 2008

Birds are a constant threat to planes at airports, and Southwest Florida International Airport has come up with the perfect solution; a 1 year old border collie named Sky.

Sky has been charged with chasing birds around the airfield in order to scare them off, and save the planes from being dented and damaged from crashing into large birds. Airport operations agent James Hess explains:

She’s not aggressive at all, but to the birds, she looks like a predator — a wolf or a coyote.

Rebecca Ryan owns Flyaway Farm, who supplies dogs for airports to keep them bird free. She says that there around twenty airports throughout the USA using dogs to fend off birds.

Sky’s work is very important as a report from the Federal Aviation Administration focusing on the damage caused by birds to planes found the following:

  • Between 1990 and 2007 over 82,000 collisions between aircraft and animals were reported, birds were responsible for 97% of those accidents.
  • 8 of those accidents resulted in the deaths of 11 humans.
  • The financial loss accrued from birds hitting aircraft totalled $291.1 million and also resulted in 362,073 hours of downtime for aircraft.

Sky is in fact the 3rd generation of bird chasing dog to be employed at Southwest Florida International. She doesn’t come cheap either, as a trained dog handler can cost the airport $80,000 to $100,000 per year. The value of human life far outweighs Sky’s cost however.

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