Large birds of prey, policies that alter food availability and air traffic : a risky mix for human safety
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Raptors are considered to pose one of the greatest aviation bir d strike risks. We investigated raptor bird strikes reported at the largest Spanis h airport (Adolfo Suárez Madrid Barajas; AS-MB) from 2009 to 2016 to determine the factors cont ributing to the increased incidences and develop
recommendations to mitigate the risks. W e hypothesized that increased raptor bird strikes resulted from changes in foraging and dispersal patterns of Iberian Peninsula vultures ( Aegypius spp. and Gyps spp.) after 2004–2005. We used information on raptor bird strikes obtained from offi cial databases and published studies, reported incidences of raptor bird strikes and their characteristics (i.e., time, l ocation, species involved), data collected about raptor fl ight heights, and estimates of relativ e abundance of large raptors and their prey species obtained through standardized surveys co nducted in the high priority aviation area around the airport to assess bird strike risks. O ur fi eld work was conducted from June 2014 to May 2016. We confi rmed a direct relationship betwe en the relative abundance of the raptors studied and their prey species in the priority a viation areas. Raptor bird strike risks increased during spring and summer when food sources were abundant in locations where fl ight altitudes of aircraft were <1000 m above ground le vel. Our observations appear to be related to European Union sanitary policies that altered the availability and occurrence of livestock carcasses. These changes may have increased the ov erall movement of vultures in search of new, scarcer, and more distant food sources, enhan cing the likelihood of overlap with air traffi c corridors. Although further studies on aviation risk are ne eded, our results suggest the need to implement immediate remedial management act ions to alter vulture habitat quality by reducing food sources in sensitive areas, an d providing alternative food resources at distances suffi ciently far from commercial airports
Is part ofHuman–Wildlife Interactions, 2017, vol. 11, núm. 3, p. 339-350, winter
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