Looking for work? Are you a pretty good shot when your opponent travels by wing, scales or on four feet? The City of Atlanta might have a spot for you.
A job posting for "Airport Wildlife Biologist" located at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will pay someone between $50,900 - $67,800 to take a job "overseeing the Airport's Wildlife Management Program, conduct Wildlife Hazard Assessments as required, and provide technical assistance and leadership to the Wildlife Hazards Working Group."
Not to put too fine a point on it, but the qualified candidate needs to be ready to pack, and we're not talking about luggage. Among the qualifications: "Maintain firearms proficiency at least annually through NRA Basic Pistol, Rifle, and Shotgun."
The need to keep critters off the runway is a serious matter.
"During the past century, wildlife-aircraft strikes have resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives worldwide, as well as billions of dollars in aircraft damage," the Federal Aviation Administration's site says. "The FAA maintains a comprehensive program to address wildlife hazards."
The movie "Sully," starring Tom Hanks as the heroic airline pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, was set in New York but filmed largely in Atlanta. Sully landed a plane on the Hudson River, saving everyone aboard, after sudden double engine failure caused by birds. Here's a clip from the movie illustrating how flying into the flock could easily have led to mass casualties, had Sully not acted quickly:
Birds are the most common wildlife threat to airline departures, a search of FAA records indicates. Scrolling through records from 2000 to the present at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport found more than 1,200 reports, and since reporting isn't mandatory, it's possible more aircraft-animal encounters occurred. Birds, bats and owls account for most of the tarmac incidents, although documents show an unlucky raccoon met the business end of an ExpressJet engine on May 26, 2015, and a coyote was found in the takeoff zone on May 1, 2014.
Snakes show up on occasion, too. This probably won't seem like much of a thing to the flying public but if you're working the ramp you might want to know about the one that slithered onto the scene on July 22, 2006.
Someone logged appearances by "Virginia opossums" on May 26, 2011 and on March 19, 2012, which makes us wonder if the possums had passports on them or what.
Anyway, we love animals and all but if it's a choice between a bird and an aircraft full of passengers, we have three words: Lock. And. Load.
Here's the job listing.
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