Many folks freak out at the idea of guns at an airport but they might not care as long as it prevents feral pigs from getting near planes.

Think for a moment about the mass of a 175- to 250-pound pig lumbering across a runway in front of a plane taking off or landing. Heck, lumbering isn’t a good word. Feral pigs can sprint faster than Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt. Something that big and fast would be a nightmare for planes.

The good people at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City don’t mess around when it comes to protecting the planes and runways. We wouldn’t expect anything less from Okies, though, when it comes to taking on feral hogs.

A sharpshooter with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Management unit smoked a wild pig that had rooted under the airport’s fence. Airport spokeswoman Karen Carney said the hog had managed to get into the airport’s critical operations area on June 5.

That was too close for comfort to an airplane taxiway and the porcine perpetrator got to take a dirt nap, courtesy of the USDA’s crack shot.

Feral swine populations in 2017, according to the USDA.

Airports and Open Spaces

I’m not a fan of the cattle chute aspect of traveling through airports, that unfun time of going through the security checks and whanot. But the actual flying part — in the plane, window seat, headphones securely on, magazine or newspaper in hand — is something I love. However many hours in the air is a time for checking out, watching the clouds and seeing what’s below.

Whenever I take off or land, I’m always looking at the airport and land around it. Curiosity, mostly, but also because I like to try to figure out what fishing or hunting possibilities would exist if access could be obtained.

A lot of airports are located outside of cities, such as Denver’s. Others, such as in Atlanta, Dallas and New York, have had the cities grow around them. That doesn’t mean deer, coyotes, birds, hogs or other wild animals stay away.

Airports and Wildlife

Oklahoma is one of 10 states that reportedly have 99 percent of the nation’s feral pigs, according to this 2014 research study. A lot of pigs could’ve died and been born in the last four years but we’re not going to quibble.

Carney, the Will Rogers World Airport spokesperson, said the airport contracts with the USDA to manage wildlife. According to the USDA, in 2013 its Wildlife Services personnel provided 251 staff-years of assistance at 850 airports (625 civil, 133 joint military-civil use, and 92 military) in all 50 U.S. States, 3 U.S. Territories and nine foreign countries.

That assistance includes assessing the property for animals and potential access points, habitat removal (eliminating vegetation, water sources, etc.), trapping and relocation, and lethal means if necessary.

Dealing with drones, however, is a different story. Perhaps it’s easier to keep an eye on the fences for hogs, coyotes and deer trying to scamper to the runway.

 

Featured Photo: iStock