Shooing Critters Away at Orlando

One of the biggest efforts is the mass removal of largemouth bass from the 15 miles of lakes and waterways on airport property. The bass attract large flocks of hungry birds that can pose a threat on the runways.

The largemouth bass from the airport are trucked to Lake Griffin near Leesburg, where algae blooms in recent years depleted the bass population that attracted sport anglers.

Daniel Canfield, UF professor of limnology and director of Florida Lake Watch, said the program is helping Lake Griffin and ultimately could help rebound the local economy if anglers return there.

He said Orlando International is the only airport he is currently working with, but would like to include others in the future because the removal of the fish helps the airports as well as struggling lakes where the fish are transferred.

"We believe next year we ought to be stocking other lakes in the chain that are hurting," Canfield said of the research project he would like to expand.

While Canfield and his team of scientists try to balance the ecosystems of struggling lakes in Florida, Metcalf, the airport biologist, is deliberately upsetting Mother Nature in order to save animals and the planes from future collisions.

"We'd like to try to make the lakes as sterile as possible," he said. "An ideal situation would be to have just water."

Copyright (c) 2007, The Orlando Sentinel.

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