Jan. 11--Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson was running a few minutes late Thursday for his speech to the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce's Rooster Booster breakfast.
He apologized, saying his plane was delayed by a coyote on the runway at Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport.
"We had to go back up and make another pass," he said.
"It's an occasional problem," Bob Whitmer, the airport's manager, said Friday. "It doesn't happen often, but it does happen."
There's never been an incident of a plane hitting or having a near miss with a coyote at the airport, he said.
"The airport is totally enclosed by a fence," Whitmer said. "But coyotes still get in sometimes. We don't know how. We check the fence on a regular basis, looking for holes or places where something might have tried to tunnel under the fence. We just can't keep the coyotes out."
It's a problem that airports across the country have encountered.
In 2007, USA Today reported that two planes preparing to land at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago aborted their landings after another pilot spotted coyotes near the runway.
A report prepared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for Louisiana a few years ago says, "Most airports have large expanses of open grassland that provide adequate habitat for many wildlife prey species. These areas attract coyotes which use them for hunting. Most airports have security fencing around their perimeter, however, coyotes can breach this fence by going through openings in gates and culverts or under fences."
Whitmer said air traffic controllers at the airport not only watch the skies, they watch the runways.
When they spot a coyote, a member of the maintenance staff is sent out to shoot it, he said.
"We've killed a few," Whitmer said. "But there aren't that many that get inside the fence. They tell me they've clocked coyotes running at 35 mph. And they say the coyotes swerve when they run to avoid being shot."
He said coyotes are wary and will generally run away when they hear a plane approaching.
But a 2007 report by the Federal Aviation Administration says that 198 coyotes were struck by planes across the country between 1990 and 2005.
"Coyotes are everywhere in Daviess County," Whitmer said. "They're even in town now. It's hard to keep them out."
Keith Lawrence, 691-7301, email@example.com
Copyright 2014 - Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.
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