San Antonio airport takes non-lethal approach to bird removal

SAN ANTONIO -- Last month, hundreds of birds were killed at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport as part of a bird abatement project created by the airport and United Airlines.

The birds, which included pigeons and grackles, ingested a poison called Avitrol, which had been manufactured to resemble corn kernels.

While legal, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations, the method caused the birds to suffer epileptic-like seizures before they died.

Animal rights activists called the project "cruel and inhumane."

Hundreds of birds poisoned and killed at Bush Airport

San Antonio International Airport records obtained by the I-Team show that this type of lethal bird removal is not used here.

Since 2011, the airport has carried out at least one major bird removal or relocation project each year.

The projects were implemented without killing a single bird.

"We would prefer to keep them away and not have to deal with an extreme," said San Antonio Aviation Director Frank Miller.

"Its really an approach of identifying the birds we have and what works best to keep them away from the airport."

The airport has gone as far as to keep a certified wildlife biologist on staff.

While the number of recent bird strikes peaked in San Antonio in 2012 at 86, the airport had only 18 during the first five months of 2014.

The airport utilizes cracker-shells, blank ammo that sounds like rifle fire, to scare away birds and has also successfully changed bird habitats to keep them from staying near the airport.

Miller added that San Antonio's major airport is not near a large body of water, making it easier to permanently keep birds away from its runways.


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