BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – To prevent mishaps on the airfield and possible damage to aircraft caused by birds or other small animals, the Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard program here works to prevent incidents by keeping a tight control of the various critters found here.
Matthew Gage, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Safety Office wildlife biologist deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, is certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to manage wildlife and is in charge of the BASH program at BAF. The program’s goal is to preserve the flying mission through the reduction of wildlife hazards to aircraft.
“Part of my job is to identify and mitigate wildlife threats to aviation safety through an integrated approach to wildlife damage management,” Gage said. “Part of the process is setting traps, snares and pyrotechnics when needed, and using them in a professional, ethical and responsible manner.”
Deployed to Bagram since March, Gage has dispersed more than 24,000 birds. Birds that are captured are collected and sent to the Smithsonian Institution Feather Identification Laboratory and entered in the bird strike database to aid with the identification of future bird strikes.
“Since my time here I’ve observed numerous species of wildlife, including the golden jackal, cape hare, wood sandpiper, redshank, and so much more,” Gage said. “I document my daily activities for documentation purposes and to provide guidance and briefs to the wing.”
With the BASH program, the flightline, aircrews and all other airfield operations are able to perform their duties with a reduced risk of birds and wildlife hindering the mission.
Gage continues to enjoy his job as a wildlife biologist and will continue to aid in helping keep the airfield mission ready.
“The best part of my job is being outdoors and around wildlife, and also educating people on the importance of BASH at Bagram,” Gage said.
Since 2009, a dozen biologists from USDA's Wildlife Services program have deployed to Bagram and elsewhere in the theater of operations.