Hazing - Aircraft

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Control / Environmental and Population Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords Planes, Aeroplanes, Helicopters, model aircraft
  • Use of fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters or model aircraft, flying over animals to disturb them and "flush" them from an area.
  • Provides a combination of a loud noise and rapid overhead approach. 
  • May involve repeated flights over an area, or "herding" birds away from an area.
  • Helicopters should be flown low and preferably lower than the flock of birds being pushed out of an area. (D211.AppIIIc.w12)
  • Can be used in conjunction with other hazing methods such as gas-operated exploders or shell crackers. (D135.3.w3, 160.App3.w11)

(B36.4.w4, D10, D135.3.w3, D160.App3.w11, D210.4.w4, D211.AppIIIc.w12)

  • Radio-controlled model aircraft can be used also. (D211.AppIIIc.w12)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • To move animals from an area where they may be at risk from a disease problem area (including e.g. oil spills). (B36.4.w4)
    • Can be used to make waterfowl fly off the water. (D210.4.w4)
  • Can be effective over a large area. (D135.3.w3, D160.App3.w11)
  • Particularly useful in the early stages of hazing operations. (D135.3.w3, D160.App3.w11)
  • Useful particularly for initiation of hazing then periodically to reinforce other methods of hazing. (D211.AppIIIc.w12)
  • May be particularly appropriate for dispersing a large concentration of birds (thousands) from a large but relatively narrow (less than 50 km wide) area, with alternative unoiled sites available within a few tens of kilometres. (D10)
  • May be used over a wide variety of terrain, including at sea. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
  • Can rapidly reach remote areas not easily accessible by surface transport. (D10)
  • Can be used offshore to deter birds from offshore oil slicks. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
  • Very efficient for hazing geese. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
  • Limited manpower required. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
  • Model aircraft may be useful over small areas. (D211.AppIIIc.w12)
  • May be most effective if used at low levels, e.g. geese flush at greater distances from the aircraft if it is flying at under 1000 feet. (D10)
  • Helicopters may be more effective than fixed-wing aircraft due to their noise and manouverability. (D135.3.w3, D160.App3.w11)
  • More effective if used in combination with other hazing methods, such as gas-operated exploders or shell crackers. (D135.3.w3, 160.App3.w11)
  • Has been used successfully to move whooping cranes Grus americana (an endangered species) away from a major Avian Cholera outbreak. (B36.7.w7)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Less effective against waterfowl species other than geese. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
  • Not very effective against moulting waterfowl. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
    • Helicopters can be used to herd flightless birds such as those which have not yet fledged, or are moulting. (D135.3.w3, D160.App3.w11)
  • Not effective against waterbirds such as loons and alcids which dive when approached by aircraft, rather than flying. (D160.App3.w11)
  • Birds on water may dive and re-surface to avoid aircraft, rather than leaving the area, particularly if very close approach (50m) is used. (D10)
  • Birds may flush away but circle back around or fly under the aircraft and return to their original site. (D10)
  • Less effective used at sites highly attractive to the birds (e.g. feeding areas, nesting grounds). (D10, D160.App3.w11)
  • May require precision low-level flying for maximum effect. (D10)
  • Increased risk of collisions with birds when used at low levels. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
  • Not suitable for use in conditions of reduced visibility/bad weather/at night. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
  • Time-consuming if required to cover a large area. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
  • May not be available when required. (D10)
  • Fixed-wing aircraft are generally less effective than helicopters, since they are less manoeuverable. (D211.AppIIIc.w12)
  • Model aircraft:
    • Not useful over large areas;
    • Limited to sites with a nearby landing area;
    • Not useable in high wind or rain;
    • Labour intensive - use of skilled operators (volunteers from model plane clubs) is required.


Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Aircraft, fuel and operators.
Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • Requires experienced pilot for low-level flying. (D10)
Cost/ Availability
  • Expensive. Cost of hiring aircraft, fuel and operators. (D10, D160.App3.w11, D211.AppIIIc.w12)
  • Required aircraft may not be readily available. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
  • For model aircraft, regular availability of skilled volunteers over a period of several days may be limited. (D211.AppIIIc.w12)
Legal and Ethical Considerations Risk of collision between birds and aircraft. (D10, D160.App3.w11)
Author Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referee --
References B36.4.w4, B36.7.w7, D10, D135.3.w3, D160.App3.w11, D210.4.w4, D211.AppIIIc.w12

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