Photo Credit: Oleg Volk
A major city airport recently posted a job opening for an “Airport Wildlife Biologist.” The position pays between $50,900 and $67,800, and requires “overseeing the Airport’s Wildlife Management Program, conduct Wildlife Hazard Assessments as required, and provide technical assistance and leadership to the Wildlife Hazards Group.” There’s also another special requirement, and that involves “firearms proficiency.”
As reported by AJC, the chosen candidate will be responsible for keeping various animals off the runway at the Atlanta, Georgia, airport, and that could require the use of a gun.
The job posting specifically requires the person to “maintain firearms proficiency at least annually through NRA Basic Pistol, Rifle, and Shotgun.” This allows the employer to handle issues regarding wildlife.
A post on the Federal Aviation Administration’s website explains why such a program needs to exist, saying, “During the past century, wildlife-aircraft strikes have resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives worldwide, as well as billions of dollars in aircraft damage.”
The writing goes on to say, “The FAA maintains a comprehensive program to address wildlife hazards.”
One recent example of an aircraft/wildlife encounter is when Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger had to land an airplane on the Hudson River in New York after birds caused a double engine failure.
At the Hartfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, more than 1,200 reports were filed since the year 2000 regarding incidents involving animals. The majority of the encounters included winged creatures, namely birds and bats. However, incidents involving other animals, like raccoons, opossums, and coyotes, have also occurred. Even snakes make an occasional appearance on the tarmac.
Aside from maintaining firearms proficiency, other requirements include a Bachelor’s degree in biological science with various course minimums, two years’ experience in wildlife management, and certification through an Airport Wildlife Hazard Management training course. A valid Georgia driver’s license is also required.