Pest shop man­ages JBA’s wildlife

The Enquire-Gazette - - News - By SE­NIOR AIR­MAN RYAN J. SONNIER 11th Wing Pub­lic Af­fairs

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.

PHO­TOS BY SE­NIOR AIR­MAN RYAN J. SONNIER

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.

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