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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Airport deer herd to be reduced

  • At some point in the near future gunshots may be heard around Hannibal Regional Airport as members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) team reduce the deer population on city property in that area.
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  • At some point in the near future gunshots may be heard around Hannibal Regional Airport as members of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) team reduce the deer population on city property in that area.
    The final clearance was received Tuesday night when the Hannibal City Council approved the use of firearms on city property. Previously the Missouri Department of Conservation had signed off on the special hunt, according to Mark Rees, director of public works.
    It is hoped the hunt will occur sooner than later so deer can be taken before does start having fawns. The goal is to take 40 deer.
    “The number that would make a difference,” said Rees.
    According to an APHIS spokesperson, the deer taken will go to “Share the Harvest,” a statewide deer donation program.
    Based on a work plan submitted to the city, APHIS personnel will make three trips to Hannibal before the end of April.
    Because the hunt will occur at night, airport officials will be issuing a special advisory to pilots.
    “Once we have trucks out on the airport (grounds) all the pilots would have to know about it,” said Rees.
    Rees terms the upcoming hunt a “short-term measure.”
    “This is to try to keep pilots safe in the short-term. The ultimate goal is to get a wildlife fence up so animals get to co-exist with an airport, but just not intermingle with it,” he said.
    Rees says “wildlife fence is at least five years out.”
    The estimated cost of a fence suitable to keep out deer, coyotes, foxes, etc., and 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.
    “Right now when you see how they prioritize all our (airport) projects, a wildlife fence is very near the bottom. From what I understand if we extend that runway where we’re landing faster and heavier jets, that priority can move up the list and then funding might be more readily accessible,” said Rees.
    While it is hoped the upcoming hunt will significantly reduce the airport’s deer population, Rees acknowledges another hunt might be required before a fence is in place.
    “If reports escalate again of aircraft versus deer or (deer) sightings, we might have to try to find a way to ask these guys back at a future date,” he said.
    Deer concerns heightened at the Hannibal airport after an Oct. 29 incident in which a pilot attempting to land reported nearly hitting one of nine deer on the runway. The pilot aborted the attempted landing, circled the field and landed without incident.
    Page 2 of 2 - According to the report, “Wildlife Strikes to Civil Aircraft in the United States, 1990–2012,” during that 22-year period, 950 reports were received of strikes with white-tail deer causing $43.6 million in damage and more than 233,000 hours of downtime. Of the 950, 798 were damaging strikes and 80 were with multiple animals.
    Rees reported Tuesday night that the cost of the hunt will be funded “100 percent by a third-party grant, with the USDA subsidizing the contract.”
    “Funding is tight. It was nice to have that grant available to defray a portion of the cost,” said Rees, who estimated the cost at no more than $2,000.
     
     

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