Plan in motion to move birds from Bird Island

Wildlife rescue group caring for 56 homeless nestlings

Overpopulation of birds at Elmendorf Lake a major concern for nearby military bases

SAN ANTONIO – At the urging of the U.S. Air Force, the city of San Antonio has put a plan in motion to force egrets and cormorants, a type of waterfowl, from a small island in Elmendorf Lake Park, which across from Our Lady of the Lake University.

“The issue is that Kelly Field, Lackland Air Force Base, is not far from there,” said Jeff Coyle, director of government and public affairs for the city of San Antonio.

Coyle said a bird strike heavily damaged an F-16 as it was landing last August. He said the Air Force has documented how often birds flew over or close to runways.

Photo Courtesy: Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation (KSAT)

Coyle said the military also traced the problem back to an over-populated Bird Island.

Egrets set to be evicted from Elmendorf Lake Park

Video Courtesy: 502d Air Base Wing - Joint Base San Antonio

City crews have now cleared away the brush and chopped down tree branches after workers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture removed the nests that remained.

Diana Reyes, chief executive and development officer at Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, said her group understood there was only one nest left, so it was expecting a handful of birds. However, she said, the USDA has brought Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation 56 young birds in the past two days.

Photo Courtesy: Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation

“It’s just unfortunate. We just wish they could have waited,” Reyes said, given that many were weeks, if not days, away from leaving the nest.

She said the animals are federally protected migratory birds. However, Coyle said USDA was given the proper permits to move the birds by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Reyes said Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation doesn’t want humans hurt as a result of bird strikes, but she’s worried about the welfare of the birds that are now in its care.

“We’ll provide for them the best we can,” Reyes said. “But we can never do what mothers in nature can do for them.”

Coyle said the mitigation plan that was developed “protects those birds, protects the community and ensures that those pilots have a safe flight pattern.”

Photo Courtesy: Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation

Photo Courtesy: Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.