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SUSTAINABILITY

Wildlife Management

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Colorado is known around the world for its robust wildlife and natural beauty.

But animals and aircraft don’t mix, which is why Denver International Airport (DEN) incorporates a comprehensive wildlife hazard management plan that focuses on protecting the safe operation of more than 565,000 aircraft movements every year.

Wildlife Management Plan

The airport’s wildlife hazard management program has produced a DEN-specific, FAA-approved Wildlife Hazard Management Plan (WHMP), which provides airport personnel and wildlife professionals guidance in making responsible recommendations and decisions.

Wildlife Hazard Management Plan

  • The FAA mandates all certificated airports conduct a Wildlife Hazard Assessment, which includes an analysis of wildlife attractants within 10,000 feet and a 5-mile radius of the airport.
  • The WHMP at DEN places a strong emphasis on “harassment and hazing” of wildlife, using tools such as sirens and pyrotechnics, to ensure that wildlife incidents are mitigated using non-lethal methods and technologies whenever possible and practical. Additional methods, including trapping, relocation, and lethal removal are also employed when necessary to protect aircraft and human safety.
  • DEN manages habitat to the extent possible to minimize the attraction for wildlife, including filling in ponds and water sources where necessary, and vegetation management activities.

Partnerships

DEN partners with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Wildlife Services, which provides full-time staff to conduct wildlife damage management at the airport year round. DEN and the USDA share a common goal of protecting aviation and public safety by ensuring runways are clear of potential wildlife hazards for the safety of the traveling public.

DEN partnership efforts include:

  • DEN Operations personnel receive required annual training on wildlife hazard management and mitigation techniques to provide a more integrated approach with USDA
  • The FAA sets guidelines that DEN and USDA adhere to regarding wildlife management standards and reporting of wildlife activity on and around the airport
  • FAA controllers also play an important role in managing wildlife by relaying reports of birds and other wildlife hazards to pilots and flight crews

Birds and Aircraft

Since 1990, the FAA has maintained a searchable database of voluntary bird strike reports, which is managed by the Wildlife Services Program of the USDA through an interagency agreement with the FAA. According to FAA data:

  • In 2017, birds made up 95% of all reported wildlife strikes on an aircraft in the U.S.
  • 82% of all wildlife strikes in the U.S. occur within 1,500’ of the runway surface, or within the airport environment
  • USDA provided assistance with wildlife hazards at 890 civil and military airports nationwide in 2017
  • From 1990 – 2017, wildlife strikes in the U.S. have cost the aviation industry 1,032,613 hours of reported aircraft downtime, and >$765 million in monetary losses (i.e., cost of repairs to aircraft, loss revenue for downtime, and passenger-care/accommodations)

What does Bird Strike Management look like at DEN?

While the number of strikes is not indicative of the success or failure of an airport’s wildlife management program, since bird activity can be influenced by an airport’s size, strike reporting awareness, geographic location, migratory patterns, species and other factors, reporting is key. In 2014, DEN was one of five finalists for the FAA’s inaugural Strike Reporting Excellence Award for its robust reporting program.

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USDA Partnership

The USDA, which has federal permits for trapping, banding and relocating birds of prey species, maintains multiple live catch traps that are strategically placed throughout the airfield to humanely trap and relocate large birds of prey.

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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with the USDA and DEN to track certain species that are relocated from the airport. A Golden eagle that was relocated from DEN in mid-2014 continues to be tracked via GPS

Wildlife FAQs

Does DEN utilize avian radar systems?

What other wildlife is in the DEN area?

What does Habitat Management look like at DEN?

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8500 Peña Blvd

Denver, Colorado 80249

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About DEN

Denver International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. DEN is the primary economic engine for the state of Colorado, generating more than $36 billion for the region annually. Follow us on socials!