We have seen a lot of news recently about Canada geese hitting the engines of airplanes. Geese like large, open grassy areas, which make airports ideal settings to find large flocks of geese. Airports have been battling this problem for years, and many airports do have border collies to harass the geese on a regular basis, as it is the most effective solution.
Most modern engines are built to withstand 1 to 3 bird collisions, however, when you are dealing with large numbers and the large bodies of Canada geese, then you have a problem. According to Cleary, E. C., S. E. Wright, and R. A. Dolbeer. 1997. Wildlife
Strikes to Civil Aircraft in the United States, waterfowl accounted for 35% of all reported monetary losses resulting from wildlife strikes to U.S. civil aircraft. Geese and swans comprised 58% of all waterfowl involved in bird strikes.
As a result of the increasing numbers of geese living in urban landscapes, some major metropolitan areas in the pacific, upper Midwest, Northeast, and mid-Atlantic states are faced with the increasing challenge of balancing Canada goose use of urban sites with human needs. There is a huge debate in New York, as to what to do with the geese in a nearby wildlife sanctuary. Does the State have the right to cause harm to geese from a sanctuary because they are putting airplanes in jeopardy?
Is there a solution? The airport already implements harassment techniques, and some of the collisions with birds are happening at high altitudes away from the airport. Better bird detection devices on planes would certainly help, and controlling the geese population at the airport and the surrounding areas in a humane and effective fashion would also help. Instead of shooting the birds, which is highly controversial, the government should provide monetary support for implementing humane goose control methods in the surrounding areas.
Until a solid solution is found, it is imperative that airports use an integrated approach to managing their Canada geese population that entails many techniques including harassing, egg depredation, and utilizing a border collie to instill the fear of a predator on site.