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5-pound water bird considered ‘extremely high threat’ to passengers at Norfolk airport

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Norfolk, Va. - About three times a month, airliners loaded with passengers smash into birds at Norfolk International Airport.

The number of these dangerous collisions is growing. Experts crafted plans to make the airport safer, but investigator Mike Mather found out many of those plans are not being followed. That is, until NewsChannel 3 started asking questions.

A bird called the double-crested cormorant has been blamed for damaging collisions at the Norfolk airport and others.

The government calls the five-pound water bird an "extremely high threat" to the safety of airline passengers at Norfolk International Airport, and records show the population of these water birds at the airport is growing.

“Do you believe the airport is doing everything it can to keep the flying public safe?” asked NewsChannel 3’s Mike Mather.

“I feel like we`re doing everything we can reasonably. And I think 'reasonable' has to be in that definition,” says Steven Sterling with the Norfolk International Airport.

FAA documents reveal the number of bird strikes is also rising here. For three years, wildlife experts have urged officials to take specific steps to make passengers safer, to keep birds like this away from the runway.

“Mike, our argument from the first day was that the airport wasn`t doing its job, isn`t doing its job,” says Carol Senechal from Eagle On Alliance.

But the documents obtained by NewsChannel 3 show the airport has not embraced the experts' advice.

“You`re saying the airport is not following them to the letter,” asked Mather.

“We intend to,” says Sterling.

But because NewsChannel 3 started asking questions, that could be changing.

This investigation airs Tuesday at 5pm on NewsChannel 3.


  • Barbara Melton

    Norfolk Airport seems to have more problems than most grasping the fact that they are not clearing their runways… Setting in a truck blowing the horn is not the answer…. many airports across the Nation have a dedicated Dog handler with border collies clearing the runways…. not that expensive and effective… They can’t kill every bird in the world… that’s just stupid!! Get the dogs, feed the dogs and don’t land on the dogs…

  • Deegie

    In my mind, the airport is trying to lay the groundwork for taking over more (or all) of the Botanical Gardens. Birds hae always been there and the public has not been bombarded with bird strike stories until recently. And dare we say ‘Canada Geese’ which are everywhere and weigh lots more than 5 lbs.

  • Jackie Harros

    It seems that since they removed the EAGLES there problem has grown!. No predator in the area means SAFE HAVEN

  • Candice Ficken

    Now that the NBG eagles have relocated, they need to target other birds. If they do their job, maybe it would be safer. Keep on them channel 3.

  • JB Maberry

    The fault has always been the airport and the failure to do all that it can to actually provide safety measures for the flying public. They tried blaming the NBG eagles, and now that they’ve relocated out of the gardens, they’re looking to blame another large bird, instead of taking ownership of the fact that they’ve failed, it’s their fault for not doing everything they can and as dictated by the FAA.

  • Pam Matthews

    Keep holding the airport’s feet to the fire or nothing will change! Eagles, or cormorants, were never the problem…the problem has always been ORF.

  • Erika Becerra

    First the airport went after two bald eagles living in the Norfolk Botanical garden and now they are going after cormorants? Hopefully this does not mean that the USDA is going to get involved and is going to start slaughtering cormorants and every living being around the airport. It is the year 2015! It is time to use science and high-tech.

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