Black Kite

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: