Avisure has been busy during the pandemic supporting airports that are taking the opportunity of the downturn to focus on staff training not only to meet compliance but also to increase their wildlife risk mitigation capability. Avisure specialists: Kylie Patrick, Martin Ziviani, William Jamieson, Alexandra Stone and James Binkhorst have held training sessions for airport staff in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.
The courses covered regulation, theory and operational requirements for effective wildlife hazard management, and were presented to small groups of airport reporting officers (AROs), airport safety officers (ASOs) and work safety officers (WSOs).
Alexandra Stone, who delivered training in Queensland, said there was a push, and willingness, to keep up with compliance in the face of regulatory changes and the pandemic environment. ‘People want to know more, and they’re always very enthusiastic,’ she says. As well as training on bird identification and behaviour, and communicating wildlife hazards through NOTAMs, she says the team took the opportunity to train the AROs and ASOs on using stock whips for dispersal.
‘Stock whips are really easy to use,’ she says, ‘but often people don’t feel confident with them.’ James Binkhorst, who assisted with the Victorian-based training, agrees. The AROs he trained were ‘very keen, but very hesitant about using the stock whip, thinking they were going to injure themselves’. Australian magpies were a problem for one airport, where personnel were using vehicle sirens to disperse the birds. The sirens were ineffective as the magpies had become habituated to the sound and did not respond. However, the loud report and movement of the stock whip dispersed them about 200m beyond the airside boundary fence.
He says ‘stock whips are cheap, non-lethal and effective’. Alexandra Stone argues that not only are ‘they very easy to use, but unlike firearms, you don’t have to have a licence. All you need is proper PPE and training, and for about $120 for a synthetic stock whip’, you have another cost-effective tool in your wildlife management tool kit.