BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Deer, coyotes and geese are proving to be a major problem at the Burlington-Alamance Regional airport.
"We've had some deer who have been hit by aircraft either when the aircraft were landing or taking off,” said Dan Danieley, Executive Director of the Airport. “We've also had two or three coyotes hit by aircraft when they were landing or taking off."
The animals are a daily occurrence on the runway. It's even worse at night when the airport does much of its business.
"We can have 10 to 12 deer at a time on the runway," said Danieley.
The most serious collision happened two years ago when a plane hit a deer on takeoff. "There was damage to the fuel tank on the plane,” recalled Danieley. “The plane lost 150 gallons of fuel from the time it hit the deer to the time we could get it into its parking place and stopped."
To fix the problem, the airport is installing a fence to keep the animals out, a move some neighbors agree with.
"It's good for the airport for safety measures and I think it's also good for the wildlife,” said airport neighbor Joe Cline.
But since it'll be another two years before the project is complete, the airport wants permission to have the USDA come in and kill the animals.
"People who've been specially trained by USDA to work around airports and on airports to eradicate the deer and the coyotes to make it a safer place for the aircraft,” said Danieley.
The city would first have to change an ordinance that doesn't allow the shooting of firearms in city limits. The airport is confident this will fix its problem.
The Burlington City Council will consider the change at its meeting Tuesday night. If approved, the animal carcasses will be used to feed lions and tigers at a wildlife preserve in Caswell County.