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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • City hunting for deer issue solution

  • A pilot’s recent close encounter with a herd of deer while trying to land at Hannibal Regional Airport made wildlife a topic of discussion during Wednesday’s meeting of the Airport Advisory Board.
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  • A pilot’s recent close encounter with a herd of deer while trying to land at Hannibal Regional Airport made wildlife a topic of discussion during Wednesday’s meeting of the Airport Advisory Board.
    “We are still having a major problem with deer,” wrote Robin Carroll, the airport’s fixed base operator, in her report to the board. “They are on the runway and endangering our pilots.”
    Carroll cited an Oct. 29 incident in which a pilot attempting to land nearly hit one of nine deer on the runway. The pilot aborted the attempted landing, circled the field and landed without incident.
    Carroll asked that pilot, as well as other individuals spotting deer on airport property, to document the incidents and, if possible, take photos of the animals. Lori Brown, manager of Survival Fight’s Hannibal airport base, offered to help keep an eye out for deer. She said the medical helicopter service’s personnel, who are at the airport around the clock, frequently see the animals when no one else is around.
    Joe Pestka, senior program manager with Pviation, which provides airport engineering services to the city, said documenting the sightings is a good idea as it will help the city make a case to the federal government that erecting a fence high enough to keep deer out is a priority at the airport.
    While a wildlife fence is listed on the Hannibal airport’s Capital Improvement Program for 2014-2020, it is rated as the lowest of 11 priorities. The fence is not up for consideration until 2019.
    A fence suitable to keep deer, coyotes, foxes, etc., will not be cheap. The estimated cost of a fence that would completely encircle airport property is $500,000. While the bulk of the funds would likely come from the federal government, the city would still have to come up with a local match of $50,000.
    With the installation of fencing not imminent, another solution capable of reducing the area’s deer herd was discussed – hunting.
    Carroll reported fielding a number of calls following recent media reports that deer hunting at the airport is again being discussed.
    Mark Rees, city engineer, told Carroll that until a city policy regarding hunting at the airport is finalized, the answer to all hunters seeking permission is “no.”
    George Walley, chairman of the Airport Advisory Committee, noted that if hunting is ever permitted it would need to be “controlled.” Rees indicted he was confident that any airport hunting policy drawn up by Police Chief Lyndell Davis would have safety as its primary focus.
    Rees said any hunting guidelines would likely require hunters to enter airport property from an access point east of the runway. Hunters would also be limited to hunting along the tree line.
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