Bird abatement systems could save Ellsworth Air Force Base flocks of money

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The new remote bird deterrent unit could save Ellsworth Air Force Base a couple hundred thousand dollars each year from damages caused by birds.

The 28th bomb will have a total of 24 bird abatement systems along the runway.

They are propane powered and supposed to scare away birds.

Ellsworth Air Force Base flight safety NCO, James McCurdy, says "ultimately they are a huge hazard to aircraft operations. We spend a couple hundred thousand dollars a year fixing damages created by striking wildlife. A large part of that is bird strikes. We have smaller birds that can go down the inlet into the engine and they can do thousands of dollars, sometime millions of dollars in damage to an aircraft engine."

The installment of the new equipment costs them about $150,000, but in the long run, they say it will save them money.

"Maintaining the system is a whole lot cheaper. We are looking at two thousand dollars a year to maintain it. And ultimately that will save us closer to $150,000 a year," states McCurdy.

They have already tested the systems out and they seem to be doing their job.

"The first day that we put the cannons out there, we would place it, and then we would fire it just to make sure it was good to go. There were birds out their when we fired the first one and they were immediately gone so it's pretty effective," explains McCurdy.

Every Monday morning between 7:30-8, they will perform a weekly test.

They are able to fire cannons off individually, in groups of eight, or all 24 at once.