Birds could be culled at Suffolk airbases to 'minimise hazards' for fighter jets
Bird control is to be carried out on Suffolk's US airbases - with birds possibly being culled in a bid to minimise the risk to high powered fighter jets.
Although the United States Air Force (USAF) said that using lethal force would be a last resort, it said a new wildlife control expert “shall provide bird and wildlife control necessary to repel, capture or kill as authorised within the installation’s current Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard (BASH) plan”.
The contract bid at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath, which has been awarded to the company Safe Skies, also stated the need to remove nests to “prevent and reduce breeding” on and around the airfields.
Bird strike data from both bases from Oct 2016 to August 2018 reveals there were nearly 100 incidents, with skylarks and wood pigeons among the most common types of birds involved.
Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Tendall, 48th Fighter Wing flight safety officer, said: “Wildlife management is necessary to mitigate property damage, and more importantly, to preserve public and flight safety.
“There are several species of local wildlife that could cause catastrophic damage to our aircraft, and a number of techniques are used to keep our runways and flight paths clear.
“While lethal measures are sometimes necessary, they are a last resort.
“Our recent contract solicitation was for a continuation of an existing program that has been in place for a number of years and is used at major airports and air force installations across the country.”
Both bases have used falconry for many years, as a deterrent to other birds.
According to RAF Lakenheath, the predatory birds are trained to target species with black feathers, more specifically corvids, which include crows, rooks and jackdaws.
While the corvid species are not often the cause of bird strikes, their presence attracts other species who are a strike risk at the bases.
RAF Lakenheath added that an existing wildlife plan has been in place for a number of years.