WHA: Wildlife hazard assessment

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Quonset Point Naval Air Station,

North Kingstown, Rhode Island; 

January - May, 2016

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In 2016 I began a research project at Quonset Point Naval Air Station, and through a series of conversations with employees of the airfield, learned of a “freezer full of gulls” that were being held at the airfield for identification and statistical/ecological research. While this proposition, at least of the freezer full of gulls, seemed ridiculous at first, I found myself fascinated. Who collected these birds? What statistical information/data were they collecting? And why?

 
 
 The feather identification team. From left to right: Marcy Heacker, Faridah Dahlan, Jim Whatton and Carla Dove [Image Credit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution]

The feather identification team. From left to right: Marcy Heacker, Faridah Dahlan, Jim Whatton and Carla Dove [Image Credit: Chip Clark, Smithsonian Institution]

 
 

As I investigated further, I found an entirely confounding body of information, which placed humans and ‘nature’ at odds with one another: severely damaging bird strikes that have the potential to harm humans and equally severe damage to habitat and crude methods for managing wildlife at airfields. In response to my findings I created the Center for Wildlife Mitigation Alternatives, which published a condensed version of a government manual that highlight the discrepancies in wildlife hazard mitigation. Pictured below are text and images from this manual.

 
 
 

In response to some of the more aggressive tactics for mitigating wildlife at airports, I developed a guidebook to be used to communicate with gulls using their own vocalization patterns and body language.  In addition to the book I wrote and developed curriculum for instructor-led classes and a plan for implication at the Quonset Point Naval Air Base.

A Field Guide to Gull Communication