While falconry is typically reserved for larger airports, Alti Bird Control is now working to keep the bird population in check around the Saskatoon Airport.
According to airport vice-president of operations, Andrew Leeming, the number of gulls flying into the airspace increases between July and September.
“In the past, we’ve had tens of birds to hundreds of birds on the property — and that can happen very carefully,” Leeming said. “We have had some (flight) delays.”
This guy is six days into training as part of the falconry program at @fly_skyxe. When deployed, he’ll chase down a particular species of gull that often loafs on airport grounds and causes issues for flights . #yxe #ckom pic.twitter.com/uVsioLCFPD
— Daniella Ponticelli (@Ms_dponticelli) July 18, 2018
Leeming said the airport also keeps track of how many birds fly into planes, noting in peak gull season it can happen around once a week.
He added while “bird strikes” mostly affect the animals, there’s always a risk that aircraft could be damaged.
The program augments wildlife management measures already in place, which includes scare cannons, scare pistols and distress signals.
Additionally, the falconry team will look at grass length, as different birds are attracted to areas depending on the height, and mitigating pond levels.
The success of the program will be assessed in eight weeks.
As mandated through Transport Canada, the airport updates its wildlife management practices every two years.
— With files from 650 CKOM’s Daniella Ponticelli.