Deer Population Reduced, But Not Eliminated at Sedalia Regional Airport
The Sedalia City Council heard a presentation Monday night from Airport Director Eric Bowers, who spoke about controlling wildlife at the airport, namely deer.
Bowers updated the Council on efforts to reduce the number of deer. Over the past 12 months, a closed season hunt has been allowed on the property to thin out the herd and reduce the possibility of aircraft encountering deer at Sedalia Regional Airport.
Most of the effort took the form of discreet bow hunting by three select hunters, Bowers noted. The rest was done by hunters with rifles. The program was done with the assistance of the Missouri Department of Conservation. Meat harvested during the closed season was forwarded to Share the Harvest, a statewide system run by the MDC and the conservation Federation of Missouri. Meat is donated to Missourians in need.
During open season, certain hunters approved by Bowers are allowed to harvest the animals on their own deer tags.
Bowers noted that deer congregate at the airport about 150 feet from the taxiway and about 600 feet from the main runway. Since most adult deer can travel about 35 mph, that means deer could potentially reach the taxiway in three seconds and reach the main runway in 12 seconds, posing a serious threat to aircraft that are using the airport at the time and cannot avoid a deer strike.
Bowers said that there have been 15 deer strikes in 13 years at Missouri airports. Seven of those caused substantial damage, and one was completely destroyed. Over 1,100 deer strikes were reported to the FFA between 1990 and 2015.
Missouri was deemed one of three states in the high-risk category for deer strikes, according to a study done by State Farm Insurance. The other two high-risk states are Arkansas and Kansas.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol reported 300 injuries and three deaths from car vs deer collisions in 2015, on a side note.
Bowers further noted that the 5/23 runway project has plans to remove a lot of trees on each side of the runways to alleviate some of the deer's habitat in the area.
Also, geese can be a problem at airports, as well, Bowers said.
A question from Councilman Bob Cross about fencing prompted Bowers to respond that a fence is a last resort and prohibitively expensive. He said a fencing project would cost around $2.2 million, and would include a 10-foot fence with two feet of barbed wire, and additional fencing embedded underground at a 45-degree angle to discourage any digging underneath the fence.
The deer population at the airport has been reduced, but continues to be on ongoing problem. Bowers concluded.
After the presentation, Council approved the continuation of Bowers' program to reduce the deer population at Sedalia Regional Airport.