I come from a long line of farming folk. Back in the relative Stone Age, my forebears were big advocates of killing anything that threatened their livestock, their crops, or just about any tool, implement, or structure that supported their profession. Many species paid the price of threatened or endangered status as a result.
And then our society became enlightened. We began to protect a lot of animals that have sharp claws, pointy teeth, and a generally indifferent attitude toward property rights and livelihood. We reintroduced them to their native habitats, and they set right to it in thinning our herds, upending our trash cans, and seizing our pets as tasty snacks. But that's okay, because we are a good, tolerant, and enlightened society.
Or so I thought until Captain Chesley Sullenberger sucked a host of Canada Geese into both engines of an Airbus A320 somewhere near Midtown. Never one to overreact, the City of New York set in motion a grand plan to cull each of the thousands of Canada Geese within five miles of LaGuardia and JFK Airports, which is an area filled with goose-attracting water. Thank goodness Captain Sullenberger didn't hit a Bald Eagle or a Gray Wolf; we would've looked like real fools for adhering to that Endangered Species Act for all those years.
I naively thought that was an isolated event, until I read this week that Longmont, Colorado, has worked up a similar scheme to deal with the hundreds of prairie dogs that inhabit its airport. Apparently, prairie dogs burrow and gnaw on wires, not to mention that the local parachutists might turn their ankles on the mounds of dirt they create. This is actually Longmont's second shot at this. The first effort, about eight months ago, was purportedly 99 percent effective, but prairie dogs must breed like rabbits.
Speaking of which, those rabbits can be pretty pesky airport tenants, too--I assume due to a similar pattern of burrowing and gnawing. There are no parachutists at Charles de Gaulle Airport, but rabbits make up for that by being delicious.
I kind of admire coyotes. I think they'll be the next mammal to learn to operate aircraft. So it must have been the endearing cleverness of this fellow that made for a happy conclusion to his Portland International Airport experience. He's lucky that he didn't connect through Detroit.
And how can you round out a list of airports and the wildlife that love them without mentioning deer? You think it's scary to see them from a speeding car? They can do some awesome damage to an B717. This photo, for example, is a mild encounter with a Cirrus SR22, so off with their heads.
Be that as it may, the world headquarters of airport encroachment has to be Alaska, where you can make a profession of shoving from airport property moose, caribou, bears, woodchucks, fox, lynx, raptors, and miscellaneous indigenous nesting birds. Sounds like a dream job for a farmer who has to share his livestock with the local, reintroduced species.
But once you're airborne and have ascended above the migratory birds, by all means kick back, relax, and maybe rest your eyes--unless you have an irrational aversion to scorpions, that is.
For happy hour this Friday, February 26, please swing by Churchkey, located at 1337-14th Street, NW, not far from Logan Circle. It's admittedly a healthy walk from a number of stops on the Red, Orange/Blue, and Yellow/Green Metro lines, but the draft beer list makes the walk so worth it. I'll see you there, starting at 6:30.