Airport Wildlife Management Bulletin - TP 8240 - No. 38

Airport Wildlife Management Training Requirements

Bulletin No. 38 - Fall 2007

In this Issue:

An overview of Transport Canada’s new airport bird-hazard risk analysis process (ABRAP), including:

A Contemporary Challenge

Lands surrounding Canada’s airports are subject to a variety of uses: agricultural, residential, commercial, recreational and industrial. Although natural settings hold obvious appeal to wildlife, animals are no less attracted to many developed sites. Landfills can provide ready sources of food. Golf courses may offer food, water and shelter. Airports themselves often provide protected roosting and nesting areas.

Natural wildlife movements among these land uses often traverse air traffic routes on the ground and in the air, including approach and departure paths, runways and taxiways. In response to the resulting risks to aviation safety, Transport Canada recently completed development of the airport birdhazard risk analysis process (ABRAP)—a comprehensive, multi-step tool to support collective efforts by airport-area stakeholders to reduce wildlife hazards.


ABRAP is introduced in Safety Above All: A coordinated approach to airport-vicinity wildlife management. This new web-based Transport Canada publication provides a concise overview of coordinated measures that airport operators, property and business owners, and governments at all levels can implement to manage wildlife hazards in areas around Canada’s airports.

Toward a Risk- and Performance-based Model

Since the late 1980s, Transport Canada’s TP 1247, Guidelines for Land Use in the Vicinity of Airports, has proven a useful and effective tool, primarily for municipal land use zoning. TP 1247 was developed to help planners and legislators become familiar with airport operational characteristics, and how they are influenced by land uses beyond airport boundaries.

Although TP 1247 remains relevant1, a variety of factors in the intervening years have highlighted its shortcomings in addressing contemporary challenges:

  • In an evolving regulatory regime, the operation of most airports has been transferred to private authorities that have, in many cases, significantly expanded the number and types of activities and land-use developments to increase commercial potential at and near airports.
  • Regulatory changes have been accompanied by a departmental shift toward an SMS (safety management system) approach. This performance-based management model recognizes that the traditional method of prescribing national airport requirements fails to respect the spectrum of site-specific scenarios that exist at the more than 600 certified airports in Canada.
  • Dramatic urban and suburban growth has encroached on—and in some cases encircled—airports originally located in relatively remote rural settings. As a result, the types and numbers of land uses have multiplied, increasing concurrently the range of wildlife attractants.
  • Ongoing research has helped to expand the list of potentially hazardous airport-vicinity land uses, and revealed conclusively that aircraft are most vulnerable to wildlife strikes when in relative proximity to airports. (In fact, nearly 75 percent of all bird strikes occur when aircraft are at or below 500 feet above ground.)
  • The sizes of some populations of hazardous wildlife, particularly Canada Geese and White-tailed Deer, have increased significantly in recent decades and show no signs of abating.
  • As the land-use make-up in the vicinity of airports has evolved, the list of stakeholders has increased and grown more disparate.
  • In light of these and other realities, Transport Canada determined that any new mechanism to provide guidance for airport-area land-use development would have to achieve three key goals:
  • Adopt a risk-based approach that would respect each airport’s unique characteristics, including size, location, operations and wildlife challenges.
  • Accommodate all stakeholders—indeed, promote a model in which they could work together to ensure all airport-vicinity development is compatible with the safe operation of aircraft.
  • Align with provisions of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) that were recently amended to require airports to develop, implement and maintain wildlife management plans.


1 The airport bird-hazard risk analysis process complements rather than supersedes provisions of TP 1247.

Conceiving a New Approach

ABRAP began to take shape during work to establish federal airport zoning regulations for the proposed Pickering airport east of Toronto. An avifauna study commissioned by Transport Canada in 1996 included recommendations for bird-hazard zones around the site.

Wildlife and land-use issues were complex. Numerous changes in land use near the airport site had affected significantly the behaviour of local and migrant birds. Stakeholders would include up to nine municipalities and many landowners.

Transport Canada determined that a risk assessment process was needed to support restrictions associated with the birdhazard zones. The resulting document—Bird Use, Bird Hazard Risk Assessment, and Design of Appropriate Bird Hazard Zoning Criteria for Lands Surrounding the Pickering Airport (see Resource Access)—sets out a new framework in which the relationship between land uses and bird species are categorized to predict risks to aircraft in various phases of flight. Authors Rolph Davis, Ph.D. (LGL Limited), Terry Kelly (SMS Aviation Safety Inc.) and Captain Richard Sowden (Avian Aviation Consultants) applied this framework to propose the creation of bird-hazard zones that differed dramatically from the circular patterns traditionally drawn from an airport’s geographic centre. These new zones would be mapped according to flight paths of aircraft types that, in the case of Pickering, may eventually be accommodated at the airport.


The authors also proposed management of various land uses outside the airport’s boundaries. This proposal raised jurisdictional issues, particularly with respect to current land-use activities, since the regulatory regime includes no provisions to intervene against existing commercial operations. Of interest, however, a concurrent study examined legal issues related to various land-use activities near airports. Grant Mazowita’s paper, Liability Issues Associated with Waste Disposal Facilities (see Resource Access), determined that an aircraft accident involving a bird strike could implicate various parties, including owners and operators of adjacent land-use facilities, airport operators, aircraft operators, air navigation service providers, aircraft manufacturers and governments.

Clearly, it was in the interest of all stakeholders not only to achieve a thorough awareness of airport-area wildlife hazards, but also to cooperate and improve safety.

Refining the process

In 2002, authors Davis, Kelly and Sowden, working closely with TC wildlife control specialists Bruce MacKinnon and Kristi Russell (currently a consultant with Beacon Environmental in Markham, Ontario), began to formalize the airport bird-hazard risk analysis process as a tool that could be used at existing and proposed airports throughout Canada. In practice, ABRAP’s performance- and risk-based characteristics were expected to provide flexibility in respecting and accommodating the unique wildlife, jurisdictional and land-use challenges faced by any airport.

A 2003 Transport Canada system safety review at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) provided an opportunity to apply, test and further refine ABRAP. YVR faced considerable bird hazard issues due primarily to its coastal location. Application of ABRAP provided clear evidence that other hazards arose from the density and mix of land uses outside the airport’s boundaries. The review also revealed the extent to which aviation stakeholders in the past have overlooked airport-vicinity land uses as sources of wildlife hazards that may threaten aviation safety.

Ensuring accessibility

The YVR study helped shape ABRAP into an effective, fully functional process; however, Transport Canada was concerned that its technical complexity would prove inaccessible to a non-aviation audience. Since broad airport-area stakeholder cooperation is key to ABRAP’s success, the production team set out to create an overview that would explain and promote the process to individuals and organizations unfamiliar with the aviation industry and its specific challenges. This audience includes provincial and municipal politicians, planners and parks and recreation staff; property developers; airport-area land and business owners; conservation groups; and the public.

The result was Safety Above All: A Coordinated Approach to Airport-vicinity Wildlife Management (SAA). This webbased document presents ABRAP in its simplest form, summarizing the need and explaining the process to a lay audience. Where ABRAP delivers sound technical guidance for the riskanalysis process, SAA underscores the value and importance of this crucial safety-management activity. Together, these tools promote a mechanism that can help airport and municipal authorities survey and categorize off-airport land uses in terms of their potential to attract high-risk wildlife.

A range of applications

As part of a broader policy to enact a performance-based regulatory program, Transport Canada recently amended Canadian Aviation Regulation 302 with the introduction of the Wildlife Planning and Management regulation. Most certified airports throughout Canada are now required to develop and implement wildlife management plans that enable the systematic identification and mitigation of wildlife hazards. ABRAP and SAA will provide airport operators with valuable support in conducting the risk assessments required under the new regulation. However, the process can be applied in a range of circumstances:

  • Building awareness through public forums on aviation wildlife management;
  • Determining requirements for bird-hazard and airport zoning regulations during the design phase of new airports;
  • Conducting planning-phase evaluations of expansions or modifications to existing airport runways or flight paths;
  • Undertaking municipal evaluations of plans for development of, or changes to, potentially hazardous land-uses in the vicinity of airports;
  • Influencing planning policies concerning future development of off-airport lands; and
  • Performing evaluations by Transport Canada and other regulatory bodies on the appropriateness and effectiveness of wildlife control measures taken on and near airports.

How ABRAP Works

Simply stated, ABRAP guides airport operators through a series of key steps:

  1. Evaluate aircraft risks by identifying and analyzing the types, frequency of movement, flight paths and generic phases of flight of aircraft that arrive, depart and operate in the vicinity of an airport.
  2. Evaluate wildlife risks by identifying and analyzing the behaviour of resident and migratory species that could pose risks to aircraft operations.
  3. Categorize and chart relative risks by aircraft type and phase of flight.
  4. Determine and chart high-risk wildlife species and examine the airport vicinity to identify land uses that may attract these species.
  5. Synthesize information from points 3 and 4 to plot bird hazard zones (BHZs) by categories of severity and land use.


Airport operators can use the knowledge gained through the creation of BHZs to develop or modify airport zoning regulations that restrict future high-risk land uses, for example. Perhaps more importantly, Safety Above All outlines a broader holistic use of ABRAP findings.

Since airport BHZs extend beyond airport boundaries—and may encroach on hundreds of different properties—ABRAP findings can help municipal authorities review existing development plans to minimize associated wildlife hazards. Airport-area landowners and operators can consult ABRAP findings to determine the appropriateness of proposed developments or land-use modifications.

Airport operators can work with off-airport stakeholders to review the risks of potentially hazardous wildlife that may be attracted to a particular land-use, and can inform land-use owners and operators about resources—such as reference materials and professional support—that are available to help mitigate risks.

Promoting collaboration

One of the primary benefits of the airport bird-hazard risk analysis process is its support for all system stakeholders. ABRAP recognizes individual stakeholders as equal partners in efforts to improve aviation safety. The process also promotes collective efforts, demonstrating that there is not only strength in numbers, but also potential economics of scale. For example, owners of neighbouring land uses could compare efforts and find ways to combine skills, share resources and streamline mitigation activities.

The key to greater safety is coordination, collaboration and integration. By working together, airport operators, property and business owners, and governments at all levels have the opportunity to apply ABRAP and reduce land-use wildlife hazards and improve operational safety at airports throughout Canada.

Resource Access

The web-based version of this bulletin enables the download of these primary documents:

Airport Bird Hazard Risk Analysis Process

Safety Above All: A coordinated approach to airport-vicinity wildlife management

The following list includes reference documents used in the development of ABRAP. Note that some of these documents are accessible on the Transport Canada website:

Document title Description
Bird Use, Bird Hazard Risk Assessment, and Design of Appropriate Bird Hazard Zoning Criteria for Lands Surrounding the Pickering Airport (Transport Canada, 2002. LGL Limited report no. TA2640-2.) This document describes application of ABRAP in assessing risks associated with development of the proposed Pickering Airport near Toronto.
Height Distribution of Birds as Recorded by Collisions with Civil Aircraft (U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2004 Auk [in review].) This formal paper was prepared by Dr. Richard A. Dolbeer, chair of Bird Strike Committee USA and a recognized authority in the field.
Land Use in the Vicinity of Airports (TP 1247) This was the sole publication used prior to the development of ABRAP to provide guidance concerning airport-area land-use activity.
Liability Issues Associated with Waste Disposal Facilities and other Land Uses as they may affect Aviation Safety by virtue of Attracting Birds (LGL Limited for Transport Canada, 2004.) Transport Canada commissioned this study of legal liability associated with the matter as part of its effort to examine safety issues related to airport-area land uses.
Pickering Airport Site Zoning Regulations: Mitigation of Bird Hazards Arising From Particular Land Uses (Transport Canada, 2004. LGL Limited report no. TA2916-2.) Mitigation of bird hazards is discussed at length in this document. Note that these mitigations are site-specific. Interventions considered for the Pickering area would not necessarily be appropriate elsewhere.
Safety Risk Assessment of Canada Geese and Aircraft Operations in the Greater Toronto Area (SMS Report no. 401) This document examines risks posed to aircraft operations by growing populations of Canada Geese in the GTA.
Sharing the Skies: An Aviation Industry Guide to the Management of Wildlife Hazards (TP13549) These Transport Canada publications provide direction on a wide range of issues concerning airport wildlife management. Of particular note in this case is the guidance these documents provide regarding mitigation procedures.
Wildlife Control Procedures Manual (TP1150)
System Safety Review of Land Use in the Vicinity of Vancouver International Airport (Transport Canada, 2004) This study, which helped examine risks associated with runway expansions at Vancouver International Airport, was one of the first applications of ABRAP.

For more information please contact:

Wildlife Management Specialist
Flight Standards, Transport Canada
Place de Ville, Tower C
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N8