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It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! The Midair Collisions Menacing Air Travel

February 9, 2020

From the Wired Magazine website

Richard Dolbeer was once the man to call if millions of blackbirds or fruit bats were ravaging your fields. When he joined the US Department of Agriculture in 1972, Dolbeer chose to specialize in handling what he and his fellow biologists term “human-wildlife conflicts”—situations in which animals wreak havoc in places that Homo sapiens have claimed as their own. Though based at a research station in northern Ohio, Dolbeer spent much of his early career on the road, teaching farmers from the Dakotas to the Maldives how to repel vertebrate pests by altering harvest schedules, erecting mesh nets, or broadcasting bursts of intolerable noise.

In the waning months of the 1980s, Dolbeer was surprised to receive a sudden influx of inquiries from American airports. None of the calls had anything to do with crops: The aviation officials were panicked about the geese, ospreys, and egrets gathering by their runways in unprecedented numbers. 

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