HAFB Purchases Fogger That Uses Grape Flavoring To Repel Birds

Apr 6, 2021, 12:57 PM
Ryan Carter, U.S. Department of Argriculture wildlife technician, operates a bird fogger at Hill Ai...
Ryan Carter, U.S. Department of Argriculture wildlife technician, operates a bird fogger at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, March 30, 2021. The fogger uses a harmless, grape-flavored chemical often found in beverages to coat insects and repel birds from critical areas of Hill's runway. The fogger was purchased through Squadron Innovation Funds to augment the 75th Air Base Wing Safety Office's Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard program which aims to reduce hazards to aircraft operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)
(U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Officials with the 75th Air Base Wing Safety Office have purchased a chemical bird control fogger to help keep animals away from critical areas on and near the flight line.

The machine, which cost $5,000, uses a chemical called methyl anthranilate — a grape flavoring often used in beverages that also acts as a bird repellent.

HAFB officials said the chemical is harmless to people, animals and plants, and it coats insects in the grass fields near the runway, making them undesirable for birds.

“During the peak of summer, when walking through the infield there will be a tidal wave of grasshoppers hopping in front of you. These grasshoppers attract many different types of birds looking to feast.  Doing several grasshopper surveys showed that there was an average of one grasshopper per square inch,” said wildlife biologist Tyler Adams. “The fogger blankets an area, coating insects and forage with a chemical that’s an irritant to birds. Using the fogger with the chemical will likely reduce the appeal of our infield and encourage the birds to go elsewhere to feed.”

The new equipment will help reduce bird levels near the airfield and enhance the HAFB safety team’s Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard program.

“When the bird traffic is heavy and they are resistant to our conventional means of harassment we can get a line of aircraft waiting to take off,” Adams said.  “Having an additional tool that helps target the source of the birds’ reason for being here will greatly help us in doing our part to ensure missions are accomplished efficiently.”

The purchase came just under a week after a Utah Jazz charter flight was forced to make an emergency landing at Salt Lake City International Airport following a bird strike.

Utah Jazz Charter Flight Forced To Land After Hitting Birds

Officials with the Utah Divison of Wildlife Resources said the Great Salt Lake area attracts “literally millions of migratory birds that use the lake extensively for breeding, staging, and in some cases, a wintering destination.”

The fogger was purchased through Squadron Innovation Funds, which directly support innovative ideas pitched by airmen.

Officials said, “Other means of controlling the bird population is removing insects through insecticides, using pyrotechnics to scare birds away, trap and relocate and, as a last resort, employing lethal take and removal efforts.”

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HAFB Purchases Fogger That Uses Grape Flavoring To Repel Birds