Abundant Deer Population at Sedalia Regional Airport Causing Safety Problems
Sedalia Regional Airport Director Eric Bowers presented a problem to the City Council Monday night, and also a couple of solutions.
Bowers noted that a herd of deer living on airport property is creating a safety issue when planes taking off and land at Sedalia Regional.To illustrate the problem, Bowers gave a Powerpoint presentation which included a photo of deer at the airport taken with a game camera. KSIS spoke with Bowers immediately after the meeting:
"Basically what the problem is, we have a lot of deer that are wandering out on the runway. That obviously creates quite a safety hazard, so we are working with the Missouri Department of Conservation to do a special hunt to thin down that herd of deer so that we can keep the airport as safe as possible," Bowers said. The resulting deer meat would be given to Share The Harvest, he noted.
A long-term solution is to thin out the underbrush that serve as deer habitat on a 28-acre tract of land. "And if we can get them to move somewhere else, all the better," Bowers added.
Another solution is a fencing around the perimeter of the airport, but that option would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2 million. The fence would have to be 10 feet high with three strands of wire above that, making it a total of about 12 feet high. And funding for such a fence is not a top priority.
"But if we don't do something about it, a plane will strike a deer at some point, and best-case scenario, you're going to damage the airplane; worst-case scenario, we could see someone hurt seriously, so we're trying to get ahead of it and be proactive," Bowers said.
The airport manager noted that deer are very hard to see on approach by pilots, who have very little time to react if there is imminent danger of striking the animals with the aircraft.
Sedalia Mayor Stephen J. Galliher noted that there were about 13,500 take-offs and landings at Sedalia Regional Airport in 2016, or about 37 per day.
Bowers gained Council approval Monday night to come up with a plan to mitigate the problem at the airport.