Saturday 25 January 2020

Hares and birds struck by aircraft and vehicles at Dublin Airport 54 times this year in a series of high-risk incidents

Dublin Airport runway
Dublin Airport runway

Hares and birds were struck by aircraft and vehicles at Dublin Airport 54 times this year in a series of high-risk incidents that have the potential to bring down aircraft, according to the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA).

A total of 43 ‘bird strikes’ were reported, while hares that inhabit grassy areas adjacent to runways were struck on 11 occasions.

The latter is considered to be a greater threat to passenger safety, because the bodies of dead hares can attract flocks of birds – thereby creating a secondary hazard.

However, the airport authority has succeeded in reducing the number of such incidents in recent years through a range of elaborate prevention measures that include the use of flare guns and nets to capture animals.

Some 44 hares were captured at Dublin Airport this year, before being released in Kildare and Wicklow under the supervision of a consultant approved by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

The main risk to aircraft arises from hares located within the grassed islands enclosed by taxiways or runways, according to the DAA. Catches cannot take place in these areas due to safety risks for personnel.

The airport authority therefore carries out “controlled shoots” to kill hares in these locations when a significant number of strikes occur in quick succession. These are licensed by the NPWS and are only conducted within the allowed season, between September and February.

A total of 55 hares were “terminated” at Dublin Airport during 2018. Some 35 of these were culled after six hares were struck by an aircraft on November 20. However, no shoots have taken place this year.

Measures to reduce the risk of bird and hare strikes have seen the number of such events fall from 102 last year to 54 so far in 2019.

Information released by the DAA on wildlife-control measures show that a “hierarchy of controls” is deployed to reduce the safety threat posed by birds and other animals living in 670 acres of grasslands at the airport.

They include “bird-scaring activities” undertaken by the airport fire service, hawk kites used to deter smaller birds, and ‘humming lines’ stretched between bamboo canes to make noise in the wind.

A spokesman for the DAA said that the safety of passengers is a key priority for Dublin Airport. “To maintain the highest levels of safety – and to meet key regulatory requirements – all wildlife in the vicinity of the airport has to be proactively managed to minimise the risk to aviation,” said the spokesman.


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