Deer Carcasses a Big Problem for Alaska Airport

'It’s like Las Vegas when the buffet is called, except for birds'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2016 6:26 PM CST
Deer Carcasses a Big Problem for Alaska Airport
A Sitka Blacktail deer and her two fawns pause along an Alaska highway in 2008. This winter, deer carcasses are threatening airplane safety at Sitka's airport.   (AP Photo/Klas Stolpe, FILE)

It may sound crazy, but dead deer are posing a serious safety risk at one Alaskan airport, KCAW reports. Heather Bauscher usually spends her day shooting fireworks at ducks and eagles to scare them away from the runway in Sitka. But ever since hunting season started in November, deer carcasses have been a more pressing concern. Thanks to a combination of hunters not wanting deer parts smelling up their garbage and the airport's location on the Pacific Ocean, carcasses are washing up directly adjacent to the runway. And that draws birds. "It’s like Las Vegas when the buffet is called, except for birds," as KCAW puts it.

With 80 or so species of birds living near the airport, it's important to be vigilant about keeping the runway carcass-free. “If a bird strikes a plane, chances are it could severely damage the turbine to the point of completely destroying that engine,” Bauscher tells KCAW. The FAA reported 60,000 occasions of birds hitting planes in the US between 2000 and 2009. And an employee of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is urging local hunters not to dump their carcasses in the water. “There’s a lot of steps between somebody pitching some animal remains overboard or leaving them on the beach and planes crashing,” Bauscher says. “But it can happen.” (Dozens of whales are mysteriously dying in Alaska.)

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