FAA reported more than 89,000 wildlife strikes from 1990 to 2008, and more than 97 percent of these were birds.

OIG Opens Audit of FAA Wildlife Control Program

The audit will begin the week of March 21, according to the letter sent by Jeffrey B. Guzzetti, assistant inspector general for Aviation and Special Program Audits.

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General is opening an audit of FAA's Wildlife Hazard Mitigation Program to see how effective it is and how well it is being coordinated with other agencies' programs. A March 15 letter sent by Jeffrey B. Guzzetti, assistant inspector general for Aviation and Special Program Audits, said the audit will begin the week of March 21.

Since 1997, FAA has given airports nationwide about $387 million to help them assess and mitigate wildlife hazards. While the principal hazard is birds -- from 1990 to 2008, FAA reported more than 89,000 wildlife strikes, and more than 97 percent of these were birds, according to his letter -- deer, coyotes, alligators, and other animals can venture onto runways and pose a risk for aircraft, he notes.

The January 2009 "miracle on the Hudson" ditching of a US Airways jetliner after a bird strike brought more public attention to this growing problem, the letter states. It cites two other recent examples: A Feb. 28, 2011, emergency landing of a Continental Airlines flight from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport after a bird strike caused engine failure and a Nov. 8, 2010, emergency of a Horizon Airlines aircraft landing at Los Angeles International Airport when a bird strike damaged the plane's right wing.

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