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