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Wildlife study to begin at Schenectady airport

The Schenectady County Airport recently received a federal grant to study the wildlife living on the airport's grounds.

According to Schenectady's Airport Commissioner Stephen Israel, wildlife can be a major hazard to the airport's operations.

We have 750 acres. Some of the animals have made it their home, including turkeys, geese, seagulls, crows, coyotes and deer, Israel said. "They can be a menace if they come into contact with the planes."

Birds can get caught in a plane's engines or dent a plane, taking it out of commission until it can be repaired, or worse, go right through a plane's windshield.

The Schenectady County Airport has been awarded a $60,000 grant; $57,000 coming from the Federal Aviation Administration; $1,500 from the state; and $1,500 from the county, for a wildlife hazard assessment study.

Israel said the study would develop measures to manage the wildlife around the airport to minimize the dangers to the airport's operations. The study is scheduled to begin Aug. 1 and take a year to complete.

According to Israel, the Schenectady County Airport handles 65,000 operations a year. Ten percent of those are military operation from Stratton Air Force base, and the remainder are private small jets and business airplanes.

Israel said there have been as many as 30 bird strikes in recent years. Since Jan 1, there have been 15 documented bird strikes.

Israel said the airport is in the migratory pattern of the Canadian geese that have plagued Scotia's Collins Park in recent years. Airport personnel have taken measures to mitigate the problem by scaring the geese away using firecrackers harassing the birds.

"Geese are high on the intellectual ladder of birds," Israel said. "They communicate to other birds and baby geese not to go places where they will get harassed, which is what we do."

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