Airport wildlife risk management

Hiep Hiep Hoera!

It's New Airport Insider's 4th birthday and I promised not to forget our birthday this year as I had done last year and the year before that (see 2017 Resolutions, second point) It was on 4 October 2013 that we launched New Airport Insider. If you're curious, see our very first article.

Since then, we've written over 60 unique articles on topics like airport wildlife risk management, A-CDM, Brexit, airport talent, people development, growth markets, public private partnerships (PPP) and much more.

If you are new with us, use the Search functionality to the right or the Search by Category also to your right but a bit further down.

Thank you for being part of our online community and here's to another 4 years!

- Jinan Publisher & Managing Editor, New Airport Insider P.S. In case you're wondering what hiep hiep hoera means, here's the answer.


Hop On the Airport Risk Review Merry-Go-Round

7 Steps to Airport Wildlife Risk Managment

This is the final part of a 7 part series exploring the use of the ISO 31000 risk management framework in airport wildlife risk management; the previous parts have explored consultation, context, risk identification, assessment, evaluation, and treatment.

You might think you’re all done. You’re now sitting back with your treatments mapped out, all of which are based on your requirements for each of your risk scores relating to your identified species. But this is probably where the management part of risk management comes to the fore.

Monitoring and review is more than a step. Like consultation, it relates to every step of the way. It pops into and out of every other part of the risk management process and different approaches and techniques are required.

The Stalwart

I think nearly every airport that does wildlife hazard management has a bird counting process and there are pretty well established standards for these.

But monitoring and review is so much more than this. In fact it is probably too big to discuss in its entirety here, so I just want to tackle a couple of point I think are important.

Harassment Effectiveness

ISO 31000 lists control effectiveness as the first objective of monitoring and review. While bird counts and strike data do this, for harassment control there are a few other variables that can potentially confound these results.

Instead, I think that airside officers should score the effectiveness of their harassment activities as they do them and, potentially, at set intervals after. A simple scoring system on perceived effectiveness is a good start and over time, may provide useful information on which techniques are worthwhile and which are not. This is particularly important when habituation is a big problem with wildlife harassment.

When? Always But Not All the Time.

While monitoring is continually taking place, there will need to be periods between reviews to ensure that sufficient data is available for the identification of trends and significant phenomena.

On a daily basis, airside officers will be monitoring birds (through standard counts or while on patrol). Sometimes these observations will lead to immediate action such as a BirdTAM or similar but this data will also go into a database for regular review.

Other reviews will take place on seasonal or annual bases. Species identification and habitat reviews may take place at set times during the year.

While some guidance material puts a 5-year timeframe on your wildlife hazard management plan review. I would consider this a review of the plan’s framework (e.g. [risk assessment methodology](link post 4), [risk evaluation criteria](link post 5), etc.) more than its content. A new species is not going to wait for your next review to follow those locusts that just arrived in the area.

Your strategies within the plan will need to be more flexible and your processes will need to be responsive enough to manage the seasonal and periodic variability of the world’s natural environment.

There is Always More

As I hinted above, there is more to this than what I have written about here. It’s a big subject and there is always more to learn, more to write about and more to do. Help us flesh out this subject below by commenting with your experiences, knowledge and lessons learnt.

The Matrix of Airport Wildlife Risk Management

7 Steps to Airport Wildlife Risk Management

This is part 6 of a 7 part series exploring the use of the ISO31000 risk management framework in airport wildlife risk management; the previous parts have explored consultation, context, risk identification, assessment and evaluation.

By now, you’ve got a list of bird and animal species with appropriate risk scores or categories and a list of requirements for each of these categories and this step can either be a lot of fun or infuriatingly frustrating.

Fun, because it involves solving problems and buying toys, and frustrating, because it there are no easy answers. And I’m sorry to report, that this post is not about silver-bullets. There are none.

Remember that context step earlier? That should have been a hint that this series was not going to provide solutions. Instead, we’ve been discussing the approach you can take to implement your own and have confidence in your decisions. So let’s look at how you will decide what toys to buy, what strategies to implement and what activities to perform.

Focus on the Problem

Ever since the risk identification step, we have focussed on the wildlife and it makes sense to carry that on. Especially, if some of those species are in categories that require you to develop a specific risk treatment plan or to target or consider them in your general strategies.

So, take each such species in turn and look for strategies that address their presence on the airport or in flightpaths.

Look for a variety of measures for each species and then put them all together.

Add Structure

Doing the same thing or the same sort of thing, over and over again, is like walking on a tight-rope. There is no room for error and everything is pretty unstable.

It is much more advisable to attack the problem from a few different directions. You need to create a matrix or a network of strategies to provide depth to your defensive strategy. Even ISO recommends this by promoting “the adoption of a combination of treatment options”.

The structure I like to use is to categorise each risk treatment as either preventative/mitigative and passive/active.

Preventative and mitigative refers to the presence of wildlife on the airport or in potential conflict with aircraft. Each risk treatment is categorised on whether it prevents wildlife from entering these areas (either physically, via some deterrent or removal of attractant) or mitigates the impact of their presence.

Passive and active refers the necessity for regular human involvement to enable the control measure to achieve its aim. Passive measures are set and forget type measures (e.g. fences) and active measures require constant or regular human involvement (e.g. egg removal).

Take each of your identified strategies and put them into a matrix with preventative/mitigative on one scale and passive/active on the other. You are aiming for good coverage in each of the four areas. If there are any gaps, keep looking for solutions.

Go Circular

Before you rush off and start implementing your strategies, you might need to do some more risk management. The introduction of risk treatments might introduce new or alter existing risks and these need to be managed much like the wildlife we are seeking to avoid.

A good example is the use of firearms. They introduce quite a bit of risk and you will need to identify, analysis, evaluate and treat these risks as well. The process will be the same but the tools and techniques will differ.

Once you have closed this loop, you are ready to go - good luck.


Don’t go too far, you are going to need to keep an eye on things and make adjustments as required. Let’s go through this in the next and final post. While we wait, why not post a comment on your treatment strategies.

Resources More information on wildlife hazard management and bird strikes can be found at:


How to Set the Standards for Airport Wildlife Management Decisions

7 Steps to Airport Wildlife Risk Management

This is part 5 of a 7 part series exploring the use of the ISO31000 risk management framework in airport wildlife risk management; part 1 was on frameworks and consultation, part 2 discussed context, part 3 outlined risk identification strategies and part 4 looked at risk analysis techniques.

The last article helped you add some data to your list of bird and animal species. Using a risk model, you will have scores or categories (probably with lots of colour) assigned to each of the species.

Now, we can add some meaning to that list.

Often, a risk assessment ends before we get to this step. I've seen a couple of instances where the results of the analysis are ranked with work beginning at the top and working its way down until the resources run out.

But what if the next species down also requires action? And how can you ever make the argument for more resources if your process only ever considers your existing resources?

In Need of Some Criteria

The secret to this step is to think about it before you start - way back when you are developing your wildlife risk management framework.

ISO31000 notes that the risk evaluation step "assists in the decision about risk treatment" and involves the comparison of your risk analysis results with risk criteria.

So, once you know what risk model or analysis technique you will be using, you will know what the format of the results you will get - scores, categories, levels, etc. Now all you need are some risk criteria.

These will be your guide as to what will be expected for each species in each of your result groups. There is no rocket science involved. Just look at it hypothetically - "if a species falls into this category, what will I expect myself to do?"

At my airport, I started at the top and asked that very question for each risk category. For "extreme" species, I require a specific risk treatment strategy to target this bird or animal, special reporting requirements must be developed and that I have a target for a reduction in that species’ numbers over the next reporting period.

For the "very high" species, my general strategies must explicitly target those species with a reduction in their numbers also required. From there, the "musts" turn into "shoulds" and then into "mays".

table whm

By setting these criteria up front, you remove the angst of making a decision. You also objectify the risk assessment process by setting the risk treatment standard in isolation of the assessment process. This ensures that you are taking a realistic look at your potential problem.

Not All Plain Sailing

I will admit that this approach has the ability to tie your hands. Especially, if you've got a big problem. But that's the point.

The idea of risk management is to be as objective as possible. To answer the questions of “Am I doing enough?”, “Should I do more?”, “Do I need more resources?”/

If you make these tough decisions up front, they will free you and your staff from questioning or second guessing the risk assessment on the fly and the results you get will be robust, solid and defendable.

Coming up in part 6, we will be looking at how to approach the risk treatment step. There are a lot of options for animal and bird control but selecting the right mix can be difficult. In the meantime, you can put forward your point of view in the comments section below. We welcome feedback from other practitioners, whether expert or novice.

This article was originally published on the author’s blog, however, as it is relevant to the series and of great value to our readers, the post has been updated and republished as part 5 of this series.

Additional Resources

Airport Wildlife Risk Modelling


7 Steps to Airport Wildlife Risk Management

This is part 4 of a 7 part series exploring the use of the ISO31000 risk management framework in Airport Wildlife Risk Management; part 1 was “Frameworks and Consultation”, part 2 was “Setting the Airport Wildlife Hazard Scene” and part 3 was “Lining Up the Usual (Wildlife) Suspects

So, now you are now equipped with a list of species you may want or need to control. To get that flow I mentioned my last article, you will need to set up a framework for analysis first. The goal of this framework is to, in the words of ISO31000, “comprehend the nature of risk and to determine the level of risk.”

In Need of a Model

Luckily, there already exists a number of approaches to this very problem. The one I’m most familiar with is the Paton Bird Risk Assessment Model developed by the University of Adelaide and Adelaide Airport.

Overall, the Paton model is based on a consequence-probability matrix but beneath that it uses relatively easy-to-quantify factors that go into the mix to produce a final score.

The consequence side of the equation is made up of 3 factors which are multiplied together to produce a consequence score. This score is equated to 1 of 6 consequence categories.

The 3 factors are:

  • Body Mass - Broken up into 6 categories ranging from less than 20 grams to greater than 5 kilograms, these categories are given a score ranging from 1 through to 32.
  • Flocking Behaviour - 3 levels of flocking behaviour with scores assigned from 1 to 4.
  • Flight Behaviour - 2 types, rapid direct and not, scored 1 and 2 respectively.

Likelihood is a little more complex multiple criteria used simultaneously to assign 1 of 4 categories and other factors used to modify this score. Generally, however, it is abundance and strike history which contribute to this score.

The Paton model provides quantitative and qualitative descriptors for this part of the process. A number of sub-criteria elaborate further and do help you get to an answer.

With the consequence and likelihood categories in hand, the overall risk matrix gives you a final risk category - one of six from negligible to extreme. And that is your final answer - lock it in.


The Paton model has a number of limitations. The first one Paton mentions in the paper - time. Timeframes aren’t considered as part of the above process.

Also, ground-based animals aren’t considered. I don’t think this is such a big problem as body mass is just as relevant and one only needs to change flight and flock to movement and herd and it works pretty well.

It is, of course, a model and this means that it won’t apply in all circumstances. As long as you go in to the process eyes open and give the results an arms length gross error check, the results should work and users can have some confidence in the process.

Other Models

There are other approaches and I’m not making a judgement call which is better. The Paton model just happens to be the one I have used the most. There are links to other models in the resources section below.

In part 5 we are going to take the time to set some criteria to which we will compare this analysis. It is a step often overlooked. But before we get there, wouldn’t you like to make a comment on your preferred model or technique in the area below?

Additional Resources More information on wildlife hazard management and bird strikes can be found on the web at:

Lining Up the Usual (Wildlife) Suspects


7 Steps to Airport Wildlife Risk Management

This is part 3 of a 7 part series exploring the use of the ISO 31000 risk management framework in Airport Wildlife Risk Management. In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we established communication with stakeholders and defined our operational context. The next step, risk identification, is quite pivotal with the rest of the process flowing naturally from this point.

For airport wildlife hazard management, this list of risks is going to be a list of the species found at and around the airport.

Some practitioners take a fairly broad approach to airport risk management and like to write down a range of risk sources at this point. They might include habitats and activities in this list as well. But I like to keep it tight. Specifically, what birds and animals have I got to worry about? This will make more sense when we go to analyse the “risks”.

Get out There and Get into Nature

You cannot do this in a conference room, an office or even just on the airport. No, it's time to get out and about to see what species actually exist in the vicinity of your airport.

The person to do this should, ideally, be an ornithologist or a biologist. If you are stuck, an amateur bird watcher might suffice.

Using the context statement, this person heads out and has a good look around. Depending on the surrounding environment, this job might be rather involved with a lot of travel between differing habitats and activities. The goal should be to look into each distinct environment to see what’s there.

This is not a One Off

Obviously, due to seasonal and other variations, this is not a one-off or an annual job. To have a truly complete list, you will need to carry out the above exercise a couple of times a year. But this may not be enough.

Stir in a Data Review

To round out the list, it is also a good idea to go over what data you have from airport operations. As part of the establishing context, we did look into the historical context with strike and count history. This data may help identify species missed during the physical inspection.

How Specific a Species?

This one is a good question and recently I asked my airport’s wildlife consultant on it. She had identified the Black Kite and Black-Shouldered Kite separately. In my ignorance I asked what the difference was, thinking that there couldn't really be much of a difference.

She explained the real differences but extended it to explain that the two species would be rated differently using the risk model we will be using in the next phase of the risk management process.

We will explore this in part 4 with a look at the Paton Bird Risk Assessment Model. In the meantime, why not share your experience in the comments area below?

Additional Resources More information on wildlife hazard management and bird strikes can be found at:

Setting the Airport Wildlife Hazard Scene

7 Steps to Airport Wildlife Risk Management

This is part 2 of a 7  part series exploring the use of the ISO 31000 risk management framework in the Airport Wildlife Risk Management; part 1 was about establishing an Airport Wildlife Risk Management Framework.

A good airport operator knows that bird strikes and other airport wildlife hazards require special attention.  In part 1 of this series, Safety Management System (SMS) processes had identified the overall risk associated with the hazard and you began consulting with your airport stakeholders.

But before making a list of bird and animal species and checking it twice, we need to set the context for the rest of this process - after all, context is everything.

As we are dealing here with a very operational form of risk management, we are going to need a very operational context. The objectives of this step in the ISO31000 risk management process are to get all stakeholders on the same page and to pave the way for the risk assessment.

The Big Picture

There are quite a few pieces to this jigsaw puzzle and, of course, they will vary for each airport but the following is a good start.

1. Operational Context

This includes the basic details of the airport operation such as who operates the airport, its operational hours, critical aircraft, number of flights and passengers, etc. This information will plug into the analysis section of the risk assessment.

2. Environmental Context

This section starts to build a wider picture. First, I would situate the airport in the wider world - general location, basic geography and climate.  Then I get specific with the following:

  • Off-Airport Habitats and Activities  Within a 15km radius of the airport, what environments exist and activities are undertaken which will cause birds and animals to come to or transit over your airport? The big ones are human-related such as garbage dumps, sewage plants, slums, agricultural, etc. But natural environments should also be considered with natural food sources and roosting locations need to be considered.
  • On-Airport Habitats Due to the proximity to operating aircraft, this area requires more scrutiny. Each environment on the airport needs to be identified and understood. This includes natural areas like grasslands and heavier vegetation as well as man-made areas like garbage stations and perching structures.
  • On-Airport Activities Look to what you do that may attract birds. Mowing is a big one on my airport but others include lighting attracting insects and transferring garbage.

3. Historical Context

Within the airport environment, events have occurred which contribute to the risk picture.  These events include:

  • Natural Phenomena What has occurred or does occur at the airport to bring the wildlife? Seasonal weather variations, migratory activity or, as in my airport’s case, insect infestations.
  • Strike History This one is pretty straight forward and a big part of the analysis process.
  • Count History  A serious amount of bad luck is required for a bird strike, so strike data might not provide the full picture. Counts really help to fill in the gaps.

Building a Picture

This step can go a long way in identifying the sources of airport wildlife risk, but we’ll get to that next. Instead, this step can be limited to airport stakeholders discussing the context over a map or two of the airport and its surroundings. The real trick is to get this down on paper so that step forms the foundation of each progress set.

In part 3, we will get out “there” to see what birds and animals we have at and around our airport. Before you grab your sunglasses, hat and sunscreen, why not help build our context by leaving a comment below?

Additional Resources More information on wildlife hazard management and bird strikes can be found at: