Malmstrom assesses wildlife hazards

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Elijah Van Zandt
  • 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

The 341st Civil Engineer Squadron environmental section is currently conducting a year-long wildlife hazard assessment, which is a survey of potential wildlife hazards on base that could affect the flying mission at Malmstrom, which could include deer, small mammals such as foxes and coyotes, or the most common animals affecting aircraft incidents – birds.

According to Dr. Roberta Anderson, 341st CES natural resources program manager, thousands of aircraft incidents each year are caused by birds.

“A lot of our helicopter flights happen at night and the base is located in a major migration pathway for birds,” said Anderson. “Great Falls is located in the Midwest flyway where birds follow the Missouri River down from the North; and fall will present a much bigger risk for an aircraft incident.”

The survey involves documenting the types of bird species as well as other wildlife at multiple locations on the base, which can be used to help bolster Malmstrom’s Bird Aircraft Strike Hazzard plan. The BASH plan assists the 40th HS by giving them data and tools to avoid possible wildlife hazards they may encounter while supporting the 341st MW’s no-fail nuclear deterrence mission.

The 341st CES environmental team also deploys infrared cameras and sound monitoring equipment around the installation to gather precise data on the wildlife that may affect the flying mission.

“We have 13 species of bats that reside on Malmstrom and although they are small, a flock of bats can be problematic for an Aircraft,” said Anderson.

Nick Karranza, 341st Missile Wing airfield manager, works closely with the CES environmental and etymology flights to for key wildlife data points to allow the wing to plan for the most appropriate countermeasures against intrusive wildlife near the flightline.

“With the help of Dr. Anderson’s findings, the Wing can better utilize tools to keep the pilots safe,” said Karranza. “We lean on the environmental flight heavily for this data, but airfield management also works closely with wing safety and other safety agencies to develop the most accurate safety plans for our aircrew.”