Saskatoon

Saskatoon airport using falcons to chase away problem birds

The John G. Diefenbaker International Airport is using an unconventional approach to keep its skies safer.

Qu'Appelle-based company to make skies safer for incoming aircraft

Rich Ensby and his falcon Nimbus outside the CBC Broadcast Centre in Regina. (CBC's The Morning Edition/Alex Johnson)

The John G. Diefenbaker International Airport in Saskatoon is using an unconventional approach to keep its skies safer.

The airport has contracted with a Saskatchewan company to bring in trained falcons to chase away or kill problem birds that might hit aircraft.

Based in Qu'Appelle, Sask., Alti Bird Control uses falcons and other birds of prey to manage wild birds across the province. 

Originally from the United Kingdom, owner Rich Ensby has 24 years of falcon-training experience.

While it may not sound like a serious issue, bird strikes can be a major problem for airports.

Large birds, like geese, have caused planes to crash. One of the best known example of this is "the Miracle on the Hudson" when a U.S. Airways flight was forced into the river in New York after hitting a flock of Canada geese.

As a result, all Canadian airports are required to have a plan in place to keep birds away.

The Saskatoon airport said it chose the program because it has minimal impact to the environment.

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