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Drones Over Westchester? Bird Strikes At County Airport Targeted

It's a bird. It's a plane. No, it's a Geesebusters kite-glider, designed to scare off "nuisance birds" at places like the Westchester County Airport. Photo Credit: Provided/Geesebusters
Former US Airways Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger has advocated using drones as one effective way of reducing dangerous bird strikes on passenger aircraft like the one that downed Flight 1549 in January 2009. Photo Credit: Wikepedia
Another angle of the "Geesebusters" kite=glider which wildlife advocates and public officials are expected to discuss as a solution to bird strikes during a meeting of the Westchester County Airport Advisory Board on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Photo Credit: Provided/
Another view of the "Geesebusters" kite-glider which wildlife advocates and public officials are expected to discuss as a solution to bird strikes during a meeting of the Westchester County Airport Advisory Board on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Photo Credit: Provided/

Humane, cost-effective ways to reduce bird strikes near Westchester County Airport -- including the use of "Geesebuster" gliders and drones -- will be discussed by public officials and wildlife advocates Wednesday night, Jan. 25.

Members of several organizations will appear before the Westchester County Airport Advisory Board meeting which begins at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the county airport terminal.

Licensed drone operator Taffy Williams will demonstrate the use of drones as "animal scaring devices" a method recommended by Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, in conjunction with avian radar. Sullengerger became famous when he safely landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River as recounted by the movie, "Miracle on the Hudson." 

Williams, a wildlife rehabilitator and director of NY4Whales/NY4Wildlife, also is conducting a deer count using drones in the Village of Mamaroneck.

'Robert Guadagna, owner and inventor of "Geesebusters," will be making a pitch to use kite-gliders that look like eagles to scare off geese and other birds. Unlike drones, Guadagna said his patented kite-gliders have no liability to people or property.  

According to this web site,  using a natural-like predator, such as a three-dimensional eagle, the device will turn in a "prey seeking" circular motion. Canadian geese, seagulls or other problem birds recognize the predator as real, and immediately flee the target area. After a little conditioning, all nuisance birds will avoid the area, seeking safer grounds. "This artificial predator can find a home in any urban area, airport, park, school, golf course and move out all your nuisance birds," the Geesebusters web site says. 

Guadragna said his clients have included the Village of Scarsdale and its school district., the NYPD Police Academy an College Point, Catholic Cemeteries on Long Island and New York Diocese. Back in 2006, he said his kite-gliders were used to service a golf course owned by Donald Trump.

Kiley Blackman of Tuckahoe, founder of Animal Defenders of Westchester, said that a mechanical predator system is being used with great success in several venues including Westchester and Long Island.  A similar method is cited as resulting in plummeting bird strikes in Canada, according to this news article in the Vancouver Sun.   

Blackman said the advisory board will be urged to follow Federal Aviation Administration guidelines and allow open bidding, rejecting costlier, outdated methods used by the U.S. Wildlife Services.

Blackman said public records requests found Westchester County spent nearly $500,000 for three years to contract with Wildlife Services to reduce bird strikes near the county-owned airport. 

Blackman said, "The FAA specifically requires open bidding for wildlife management at airports; this is not being done. Instead these lucrative jobs are funneled to WS, at considerable cost to taxpayers. 

On Jan. 15, 2009, 155 people aboard US Airways Fllight 1549 escaped a deadly disaster after a bird strike on the aircraft engines while approaching New York City. Less-costly methods have been recommended by Flight 1549's pilot Sullenberger and others. Sullenberger cites avian radar and drones, successfully used elsewhere, according to this article published in National Geographic 

"The NTSB issued several recommendations after Flight 1549 crashed in the Hudson River. None have been implemented, according to this report by CBS Local News.

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