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Managing Wildlife at the Pittsburgh International Airport


Earlier this week, the WESA newsroom reported on the capture of a short-eared owl near the runway of the Pittsburgh International Airport. The medium sized owl is considered threatened in the state of Pennsylvania.

So special care needed to be taken to retrieve, tag, and relocate the bird. We talked with Bob Mulvihill, an ornithologist with the National Aviary and Bobby Hromack, a wildlife specialist for the airport and biologist with the USDA, on the issue.

Mulvihill discusses why the owl is considered threatened by Pennsylvania but not federally:

The short-eared owl has a very a vast range and most of the range of the owl is to the north and west in Pennsylvania. So they really reach close to their limit of their breeding range in Pennsylvania. They are very rare here.

Hromach describes the process of catching a short-eared owl:

We are able to catch them with pole traps. We would actually put out a couple six to eight foot poles in the field, attach a trap to the top of it with a little perch and when they would land on it they would go down the slide wire onto the ground where we could safely process them.

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