Wildlife Hazards

Northwest Mountain Regional Airports Division


FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 150/5200-33, Hazardous Wildlife Attractants on or Near Airports provides guidance on locating land uses that may potentially attract hazardous wildlife onto or in the vicinity of public-use airports. The AC provides examples of land uses that may be compatible with airport operations and those that have been deemed incompatible. Siting criteria for the noncompatible uses is defined and notification requirements are provided.

Siting Criteria

FAA recommends that wildlife-attracting uses be located beyond the following distances from an airport's aircraft movement areas, loading ramps, or aircraft parking areas:

  • 5,000-feet for airports serving piston-powered aircraft,
  • 10,000-feet for airports serving turbine-powered aircraft,
  • 5 statute miles if the attractant causes hazardous wildlife movement into or across the approach or departure airspace.

Examples of such incompatible land uses include putrescible-waste disposal operations, wastewater treatment facilities, artificial marshes, wastewater discharge and sludge disposal, wetland mitigation that provides habitat for hazardous wildlife (particularly waterfowl).

Some land uses may be compatible with safe airport operations provided they are designed appropriately. Examples of these possible uses include, enclosed waste facilities, recycling centers accepting non-food items, composting operations, construction and demolition debris landfills, water detention or retention facilities, landscaping, golf courses, and agricultural crops. To insure that any of these uses are safe with airport operations, we highly recommend that FAA's Airports District Office (ADO) be notified early of the proposal. The ADO will then work closely with the United States Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Division (USDA-WS), with whom the FAA has a Memorandum of Understanding for assessing and reducing wildlife hazards. The recommended notification procedures for these proposals are outlined below as well as some general design guidelines for detention facilities.

FAA Notification

On-Airport Proposals

FAA recommends that all proposals listed above go through the 7460 process. This involves filing a completed Form 7460, Notice of Proposed Construction or Alteration, with attached drawings of the proposal with the Airports District Office. At the same time, a copy of the form and the preliminary design and drawings should also be forwarded to the appropriate USDA state contact.

Off-Airport Proposals

FAA recommends that the ADO be notified of all proposals by other municipalities or developers if they are within the criteria listed above. FAA will then work with USDA-WS to either find an acceptable location or achieve a compatible design at the proposed location.

A Word of Caution - Endangered Species

As outlined in Section 2-4 of AC 150/5200-33, exceptions to locating mitigation activities outside the separation criteria may be considered if the affected wetlands provide unique ecological functions, such as critical habitat for a threatened or endangered species or ground water recharge. With the recent listings of salmon, there may be additional requirements to mitigate for such impacts. Again, the best way to proceed is to work closely with the FAA and USDA-WS.

General Design Recommendations - Detention Facilities

Listed below are general recommendations for detention facilities. For guidance on other proposals, please contact the ADO:

  • Minimize the surface area of standing water.
  • Increase the depth of the facility and make it more linear to achieve capacity without increasing surface area.
  • If a two-chambered design is necessary, there should be at least a ½-1 percent gradient from the upper to lower pond, making sure that the outlet/control structure is at the absolute lowest point.
  • Place riprap or quarry spalls on the side and bottom of the ponds (similar to a French drain) to prevent waterfowl from feeding on emergent vegetation.
  • If vegetation is required for water treatment, a uniform mix of forest or shrub/scrub vegetation should be established at a density such that areas of standing water are eliminated or minimized by the vegetative canopy.
  • If an erosion mix is needed, use a vegetative mix that is not an attractive food source for waterfowl or other flocking birds (i.e., one that does not include high quantities of millet or clover).
  • Netting or overhead wires can be used for short-term construction projects such as sediment catch basins, but waterfowl and birds can still see the open water and may come to investigate the area. This also creates a maintenance issue.

Wildlife Biologist Qualifications

FAA published Advisory Circular 150/5200-36 on January 31, 2012. It provides information on the qualifications of a wildlife biologist conducting wildlife hazard assessments and training curriculums for airort personnel involved in controlling wildlife hazards on airports.

National Policy and Guidance

Last updated: Tuesday, August 2, 2022