If coyotes could fly, well, maybe they would pose fewer problems on the ground.
Coyotes were involved in at least 28 aviation incidents at four airports around B.C. over the last 12 months, according to a Postmedia review of Transport Canada files.
Twelve of those incidents occurred at Vancouver International Airport — more than anywhere else — compared with six each at Cranbrook and Fort St. John, and four at Prince George.
Although none of the coyotes reported on runways resulted in accidents, they did cause planes to abort landings and delay takeoffs.
On Nov. 8, 2015, at Vancouver airport an Execaire Cessna 680 from Winnipeg missed a landing approach and an Air Canada Airbus A320-211 headed for Calgary was unable to depart due to a coyote on the runway. The coyote was chased off, but came back and delayed the Airbus takeoff a second time.
On Nov. 11, 2015, at YVR a WestJet Boeing 737-7CT from Edmonton to Vancouver executed a missed approach “as there were coyotes on the runway,” the federal files reveal. Wildlife control staff scared the animals away, but the coyotes returned and the next arrival, an Air China Boeing 777-300 from Beijing, also executed a missed approach.
On May 19, 2016, YVR controllers ordered another WestJet plane inbound from Calgary to overshoot the runway due to a coyote preventing a Jazz de Havilland DHC-8-402 from departing. The plane eventually left, 16 minutes delayed. “Other departure times … were delayed by seven to 10 minutes for eight aircraft,” the files state.
Vancouver airport is located on Sea Island in the lower Fraser River estuary, an internationally significant area for birds — and the predators that would eat them. The fields and bordering grasses and shrubs are also home to small rodents that make a nice snack for coyotes and raptors.
Typically, birds pose a greater threat to aviation than mammals. YVR moved almost 1.1 million birds in 2015, up from 624,000 in 2014 and a five-year high of 704,000 in 2012. The airport also killed 212 birds for posing a threat last year — well under half the 564 killed in 2012 — including 65 snow geese, 33 mallard ducks and three short-eared owls, which were “inadvertently killed” by trained falcons sent out to chase the more common birds.
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