Sea-Tac Airport Gets “Proggy Award” From PETA
Sea-Tac Airport won an award this week from a source you don’t usually associate with airports – PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), which gave them a “Proggy Award” in the Most Progressive Airport category for 2009.
The honor was bestowed upon the airport for its innovative use of bird radar, lasers and pyrotechnics used to deter birds from flying into the paths of airplanes, as well as its full-time staff biologist and more.
Here’s the press release from PETA:
For using radar, lasers, and pyrotechnics to keep birds away from airspace that could put them on a collision course with aircraft, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has won a PETA Proggy Award in the Most Progressive Airport category. Sea-Tac will receive a framed certificate and will be featured on PETA’s award-winning Web site, PETA.org. PETA’s Proggy Awards (“Proggy” is for “progress”) recognize animal-friendly achievements in commerce and culture.
According to news reports, Sea-Tac employs a staff wildlife biologist and 20 assistants who work to prevent potentially disastrous collisions between rapidly moving aircraft and flocks of slow-moving birds. The airport uses a special radar system to detect flocks of birds and, by observing their flying patterns, identify their species. Once it’s determined that a flock could be on a collision course with an airplane, the wildlife team focuses lasers in the birds’ eyes to mimic a predator. This is usually enough to make the birds change course and fly to a safer area. If the lasers don’t do the trick, the team rolls out the pyrotechnics–explosive shells that are shot into the air. The program has proved effective in protecting both aircraft and birds.
Sea-Tac has also done several things to make the airport less attractive to birds and other animals. It installed netting over storm-water ponds, put in plants that would deter birds from nesting, and installed underground fencing to prevent burrowing animals from reaching runways. Not only is killing birds around airports cruel, it is also ineffective. As long as conditions remain attractive to birds, others will move in to fill the void left by those who are killed.
“Sea-Tac’s program is an effective and compassionate way to handle wildlife around aircraft, and it should be a model for every airport,” says PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “We commend Sea-Tac for adopting nonlethal measures that protect airline passengers without hurting birds and other animals.”
For more information about PETA’s work to protect animals, please visit PETA.org.