Hill AFB reducing bird strikes with raptor relocation program

Local News

Courtesy of Hill Air Force Base

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (ABC4) – In an effort to save the lives of birds and humans alike, as well as reduce the cost of expensive bird strike incidents, wildlife managers are working to relocate predatory birds away from the military base airfield.

According to a press release from Hill Air Force Base, more than 100,000 bird strikes on Air Force aircrafts have occurred since 1995. This has resulted in 29 human deaths, 13 lost aircrafts, and over $714 million in damages.

The base’s on-going efforts to move the birds away from the airfield will be a win-win for both the winged creatures and the winged machines at Hill Air Force Base.

“There is a near zero percent chance a bird is going to survive a strike with an aircraft,” Tyler Adams, a wildlife biologist at the base, said in the same press release. “No one wins when a bird collides with an aircraft. Removing them is a win for everyone. It protects Air Force assets and keeps missions running, while also protecting the birds.”

Courtesy of Hill Air Force Base

According to the base, the birds, which include species such as a kestrels, hawks, and owls, are trapped as humanely as possible, documented, and then released more than 50 miles away. Thanks to this process, none of the relocated birds have returned to the dangerous environment of the airfield.

Since April 2015, the team at the base has captured and released 269 birds of prey: 229 kestrels, 15 Cooper hawks, 13 red-tailed hawks, five Swainson’s hawks, and seven great horned owls.

Jazz suffered bird strike scare earlier this season

Recently, a bird strike derailed the Utah Jazz’s efforts to travel to an away game in Memphis, Tenn. Shortly after takeoff from Salt Lake City International Airport on March 30, the team’s charter plane struck a flock of birds and was forced to make an emergency landing.

“We were in the air for about eight to 10 minutes, and the next thing you know, it was just a loud boom like something had exploded on the plane,” Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell said. “I was sitting across from Royce (O’Neale), and were sitting there kind of praying because we really didn’t know what was going on. There was a point where you just thought this could be it.”

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The experience was traumatic enough that Mitchell, who has voiced his fear of flying before the incident, chose to stay in Utah when the team successfully left for Memphis later that night.

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