USDA airport biologist Bobby Hromack holds his first captured short-eared owl. Although it weighs no more than 16.8 ounces, the species can pose an aviation safety hazard due to its 33-43 inch wingspan and low, rolling flight style.
Seeing a short-eared owl in November on the Pittsburgh International Airport, where I work as an airport wildlife biologist, was a unique occasion. However, as the number of owls grew to eight, I recognized the challenge ahead: Like all birds of prey, short-eared owls are a recognized potential aviation hazard. Their low rolling flight and difficult-to-disperse reputation means they pose an aviation safety threat. From 1990-2012, short-eared owl strikes with aircraft in the United States caused over $1 million in damage, and often are fatal to the birds. Convincing them to leave would be difficult but important.
The task would be harder because short-eared owls are listed by the State as an endangered species. Common in many areas globally, Pennsylvania is the southernmost edge of their breeding range. These owls likely migrated from Canadian breeding grounds to winter in Pennsylvania. Read more »
When startled by a swarm of flying and buzzing insects, complete with stingers, the common response may be to grab an aerosol can of insecticide; but appreciating the vital importance of honey bees to agriculture and knowing something of various difficulties currently faced by bees, alternative actions are warranted.
Recently my staff noticed a huddled mass of what turned out to be bees in the lot by our office and shop. We looked for a queen but left the swarm alone. It later became apparent the bees had created a home under flashing at the building’s roof line, which seemed an inopportune location both for the bees and my staff.
We encouraged our landlord to consider relocation of the hive and were amazed to watch the process when Charlie Reffitt showed up one May morning. In shorts and T-shirt, he climbed 20 feet up a ladder, with bees swirling around. He inserted a funnel-like device into the hive under the flashing, caulking all other entrances. He secured a cardboard box on the roof, populated with a queen and initial colony. Read more »
An adult Diamondback terrapin too close to the JFK runway. Courtesy of Jenny Mastanuono.
It’s been a busy spring for USDA Wildlife Services’ biologist Jenny Mastantuono and her staff, who work at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport solving wildlife conflicts with people and planes. Read more »
Marie Griffin holds a raptor that will be relocated.
For APHIS Wildlife Services employees Marie Griffin and Steve Baumann, being recognized as “Outstanding Performers” by the U.S. Air Force’s 55th Wing is an honor. But the most rewarding feeling comes at the end of each work day, after none of the aircraft at Nebraska’s Offutt Air Force Base incurs a damaging wildlife strike. Read more »
Today is World Rabies Day. Scientists, public health professionals, veterinarians, wildlife biologists, and others from around the globe will celebrate World Rabies Day by raising awareness about efforts to rid the world of rabies. Rabies is one of the oldest known diseases, yet it remains a significant wildlife management and public health challenge.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proud to support efforts to eliminate this deadly disease through its Wildlife Services (WS) and Veterinary Services (VS) programs. Read more »
Wolf captured and collared by USDA WS
Wolves have an intrinsic value among Ho-Chunk people. The Nation is dedicated to ensuring that wolves remain on the landscape to preserve their role in Ho-Chunk culture for future generations. Read more »