Deer causing problems for small airports

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COLUMBIA - A new federal report shows deer and other animals can cause safety issues at rural airports. KOMU 8 News checked around mid-Missouri and was told it is not a problem locally.

Deer are known to jump tall fences or squeeze under them and end up on airport grounds and runways. Deers use the runways to keep warm because they tend to hold heat longer than bare ground. This can lead to collisions between the animals and planes.

Greg Cecil, chair of the Airport Advisory Board, said the Columbia Regional Airport and others in mid-Missouri have never had a large problem with deer.

"I saw a couple deer out there one day, but they were small ones and they were nowhere near the runway, so there's never been a huge issue of wildlife," Cecil sad.

Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, many larger airports have built tall fences topped with barbed wire as a security measure. They also work to keep deer and other wildlife out.

Columbia Regional Airport installed a 12 foot fence around the entire airport less than a year ago. Cecil said the fence was installed to keep out both animals and intruders.

"We needed to upgrade our security fence and we were able to secure some funding, so we just finished that up recently," Cecil said. "It's a really good looking fence, we're excited to have it." 

The report from the Federal Aviation Administration and Agriculture Department states between 1990 and 2013 there have been 1,880 collisions between deer, elk, moose, and caribou. Although the Columbia airport is located in a rural area, Cecil said he can see airports in other areas having problem with wildlife.

"Kansas City airport has a lot of ponds around so they potentially have problems with geese and potential bird strikes," Cecil said.

Cecil said with the security fence surrounding the airport, passengers should not be concerned with any deer gracing the runway.

"Our fence is tall enough to keep just about anything out, and the security folks really patrol it," Cecil said. "We make sure we don't have any animals running around the runway."