Book review: Wildlife and Airport Environments: Preventing Animal–Aircraft Collisions through Science–Based Management by Travis L. DeVault, Bradley F. Blackwell, & Jerrold L. Balant. 2013. Baltimore, MD: The John’s Hopkins University Press. pp. 181 with index.
US Airways Flight 1549, otherwise known as The Miracle on the Hudson, reacquainted most Americans with the threats posed by birds and other wildlife to aircraft. While that flight received great attention, the fact is wildlife threats to aircraft have been existence since flight was first discovered. Wildlife and Airport Environments summarizes the state of knowledge regarding principles for reducing the threats posed by wildlife to aircraft. The text is very technical and takes a modeling approach to the topic. The goal of the authors is to help readers understand the complexities involved in managing wildlife. The authors carefully and repeatedly remind readers that lethal control alone is not sufficient or necessary to resolve every wildlife threat to aircraft. However the authors also tell readers that nonlethal techniques, or what they refer to as indirect methods, cannot resolve every wildlife threat to aircraft either.
The book contains 15 chapters organized into three parts. Part 1: Wildlife Management Techniques, discusses bird and wildlife behavior in the hopes of better understanding how visual repellents can be effective. Tactile, auditory, and chemical repellents are investigated also. The section is rounded out with chapters covering excluding mammals, use of translocation, and population management to reduce aircraft wildlife strikes.
Part 2: Managing Resources, reviews how habitat modification can both reduce and increase wildlife aircraft conflicts. The authors show how balancing environmental and airstrike issues require difficult choices, where the best choice often is the lesser of two evils. Part 3: Wildlife Monitoring, investigates rationale and methods for determining animal numbers and threats so that data is scientifically rigorous enough to withstand legal analysis. Monitoring also is critical to show officials whether management techniques are working and to identify new threats.
The book is very technical and its modeling approach is quite different than most wildlife control operators would be familiar with. The chapters are often descriptive and discussion-based rather than prescriptive. Readers will be exposed to a wide range of terms and concepts in biology and wildlife management that, while not immediately useful for their businesses, can help guide decisions as well as understanding scientific literature. The book is most suited for researchers and instructors looking to engage the literature or educate students regarding the complexities of management of wildlife in highly critical situations, such as airports.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest books are the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition and The Practical Guide to the Control of Feral Cats. He can be contacted at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
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