Pest shop manages JBA’s wildlife
Preventing health hazards, reducing damage to property and providing base-wide pest control is a normal day on-the-job for the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron’s pest management shop.
Health hazards increase the risk of work stoppage and with warmer weather brings an increase in pests. Entomology frequently works with safety, public health, bioenvironmental and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for preventive measures.
“This time of year, the most important thing we are dealing with is disease vectors, primarily mosquitoes, due to the Zika and West Nile viruses,” Mr. John Noble, 11th Pest Management supervisor, said. “We work with the different agencies to resolve issues and keep the mission sustained. Our number one priority is to prevent mission stoppage.”
He stated the best way to combat disease vectors is for the base populous to become educated on controlling ideal breeding locations. Monitoring these sites and hindering the ability to grow can help prevent spread of diseases carried by the vectors.
The pest shop also ensures the facilities on base are free from wildlife through the preventive maintenance program. They inspect the areas for wildlife that pose health hazards and work stoppage. Once identified, the team focuses on exclusion to cut off the entryway for more wildlife. Next, they verify the facility is sanitized and no longer a pest-friendly environment. Chemicals are used as a last resort, Noble said.
One of the largest programs the team works with involves the bird population on Joint Base Andrews. The Bird Airstrike Hazard Program is utilized to help prevent bird strikes with aircraft, causing damage to government property.
“Through the BASH program, we are able to mitigate and deter the birds by using non-lethal and lethal means,” Noble said.
Non-lethal methods include paintball guns to harass the birds, a bird-wire-grid over ponds and geese lights to deter birds from landing. Lethal means, such as a shotgun, are only used as a last resort, when non-lethal means are deemed ineffective.
Airman 1st Class Conner Vaught, 11th Pest Management apprentice, said his favorite part of the job is being outdoors and experiencing something different every day. Even though he may get called for the same type of job, different challenges may face him.
“We always face different types of pests, to include endangered species,” Vaught said. “We continue to be innovative by using new, safer ways to keep the mission going.”
Airman 1st Class Conner Vaught, 11th Civil Engineer Pest Management apprentice, sets a live-trap for feral cats on Joint Base Andrews. Feral cats have the potential to carry rabies, causing health issues.
Burton Rogers, 11th Civil Engineer Pest Management technician, retrieves a goose from a pond on Joint Base Andrews. Geese and other birds pose a threat of damaging aircraft.