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Johnson County Airport Commission Tackles bird collision issue

There is a chance of a bird being hit every time a plane lands or takes off. The Johnson County Airport Commission has employed a wildlife biologist to reduce the odds of a collision. The biologist will maintain the skies at the two airports in the county.

Franklin Whittaker, the biologist and airfield specialist said, “Hitting a bird causes damage to aircraft and downtime.” With the increasing number of Geese in Johnson County, he says it would be a risk for the passengers as well as pilots.

He explains that the Johnson County Geese’s major problem is that they do not migrate anymore and have become residential. They stick around here as they don’t leave the area these days. Earlier this year, Whittaker sent out letters to residents in and around the Johnson County Executive Airport in Olathe, Kansas. He asked for their permissions to come over to the property and remove Geese.

However, due to a workforce shortage this Spring, he had to scrap those plans. He uses fireworks and paintballs around the airport property to scare of these Geese. It is an attempt to keep them away from the skies above runways.

Whittaker said that Geese being flocking birds who travel in groups, there are high chances for a bird strike when they are grouped. However, the larger birds tend to glide or slow down to move out of the way of an airplane. The predatory birds like hawks like airports because of the amount of grass and meals in the prairie land.

To keep those gliders safe, Whittaker traps them and moves them to Big Bull Creek and Shawnee Mission Parks.

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