Wildlife Management

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:

Airport Wildlife Risk Management: Framework and Consultation

7 Steps to Airport Wildlife Risk Management

It can be easy for an airport operator to brush off the impact of a bird strike. The majority of the cost, estimated to be between $700 million BSC USA and $1 billion EASA per year, is borne by airlines. But aviation is a team-sport and, as an airport manager, when I get a call notifying me of a bird strike, I run through my management choices again, each and every time.

Those choices and business decisions can be tough. The effect of various wildlife management techniques can be hard to measure as there is no silver bullet.

Risk management is, of course, the method du jour for making decisions and it is making real inroads into the wildlife hazard management area. By now airports are exercising their risk management muscles through their Safety Management System and other business systems.

However, as a generic philosophy, risk management can sometimes be hard to apply in specific situations without a good understanding of the overall framework, tools, techniques, etc. In this series, we’ll look at the specifics as they relate to the important issue of wildlife hazard management.


Although the ICAO Safety Management  System (SMS) has its own risk management framework, it’s also a good idea to consider the almost universally accepted international standard - ISO 31000. The benefit of using the ISO standard is that it is rather agnostic about the level the process is being used.

The SMS framework is rather strategic and may not suit, without manipulation, the more operational level of a wildlife hazard management plan.

Wildlife hazard management is a process within the overall airport’s safety management system. However, when you are close to the frontline, it requires a different set of tools and approaches.

This article is the first in a series which looks at risk management in the context of wildlife hazard management in the development of a wildlife hazard management plan.

We can start the process as follows:

Consulting with Stakeholders

Actually, consultation is not the first step in the risk management process; rather, it is something you do throughout the process, in many forms. And it does not need to be a committee.


ISO 31000 sums up a stakeholders a a “person or organisation that can affect, be affected by, or perceive themselves to be affected by a decision or activity”. So you need to start with a list; possibly, a long list.

Airports need to think about internal stakeholders, on-airport, off-airport, direct relationships, indirect relationships, upstream suppliers, downstream beneficiaries, the list goes on and will vary between airports. Some airport stakeholder categories are:

  • Airlines and Aircraft Operators
  • On-airport businesses who are likely to contribute to the presence of wildlife attractants
  • Neighbouring businesses or properties who are also likely to contribute to the environment’s attractiveness to wildlife
  • Local government planning authorities and operators of essential infrastructure (think waste dump and sewage plant operators)
  • Wildlife specialists such as biologists, ornithologists, both academic and professional
  • Senior management - especially when it comes to risk attitude, tolerance and criteria


The form of communication will vary. Sometimes, committees will be needed. Brainstorming activities to define the context and strategize treatments will work better in a group environment. Other activities like setting risk attitude might be better worked out in private.

Whichever form is chosen, it must be recordable, cooperative and two-way. Communication needs to be part of the process with its output becoming inputs in the other steps and vice versa.

Process Outcomes

ISO 31000 tells us what we want out of this process. It says that a consultative approach is designed to:

  • Help establish context;
  • Ensure the risk identification process achieves an appropriate level of completeness;
  • Provide different perspectives on risk analysis;
  • Achieve buy-in on the treatment plan

Set up to Succeed

From the above list, it is clear why consultation is critical. As we go through the remainder of the risk management process, we will, time and time again, reach back to our stakeholders to ensure that the end result is the best we can achieve. In part 2, we will dive into setting the context for the risk assessment and treatment further down the line. But in the meantime, why not consult with us on the process so far by leaving a comment below?

This article is part 1 in a series of 7 exploring the use of the ISO31000 risk management framework in  wildlife management.

Additional Resources More information on wildlife hazard management and bird strikes

About The Author: Dan manages a growing regional airport in Australia. He has also worked in the airport industry as a consultant, surveyor and inspector, including 4 years with the Civil Aviation Authority. He has a special internet in pragmatic risk management for manager in the complex and dynamic aviation environment. You can find him on Twitter.