Sheppard AFB asks for help countering bird strikes
WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - As Cattle Egrets make their annual springtime return to north Texas, Sheppard Air Force Base is desperately trying to minimize the risk of bird strikes by asking the community to report roosts to local authorities.
It’s a little-known fact that in a battle between a bird and a plane, the bird wins. Sure, the bird dies, but the plane goes down with it. Bird strikes are such a hazard that “Top Gun: Maverick″ makes them a plot point; Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was forced to land US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson after a bird strike led to engine failure.
With Sheppard known for its pilot training programs, the reporting is especially important. It took a single cattle egret to destroy an $8 million plane back in 2013. While catastrophic incidents are rare -- in that case, two pilots ejected -- the base still averages 60 bird strikes a year, with total damages of around $3.3 million.
SAFB officials are therefore asking the community to report any egret roosts or large bird gatherings in the Wichita Falls city limits, or within 12 miles of the base. By detecting roosts early, a non-lethal hazing and habitat management program can “convince” the birds to move far enough away that their daily feeding flights won’t cross over the airfield.
The program is the result of a partnership between SAFB, the USDA, US Fish & Wildlife Service and the City of WF.
You can report large roosts or groups of cattle egrets by calling (940) 676-5407 or online via SAFB’s Contact Us form.
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