Birds of prey work to protect military aircraft
Published Tuesday, June 13, 2017 5:33PM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 13, 2017 6:31PM ADT
The commute along the military airfield at 12 Wing Shearwater isn’t busy, which is why staff members with ‘The Raptors’ are more concerned about the traffic in the sky.
While pilots and air crew fly in and out, protecting our coastal waters, The Raptors keep the skies clear of birds that could strike a military aircraft.
“It depends on the time of year, but yes we do get a lot of birds that come through the airfield,” says Kaitlyn Boak, with The Raptors.
Boak works to ensure osprey, crows, and seagulls don’t harm the Sea Kings. The 27-year-old doesn’t do it alone, she works alongside Tom Bo, a peregrine falcon.
“He has eye sight that’s about eight times better than ours is, so he's seeing things that we can’t see,” says Boak.
Boak says the peregrine falcon is the fastest animal in the world, which is why Tom Bo wears a transmitter that allows him to be tracked.
“They are to the sky what cheetahs are to the land,” says Boak. “They’ve been clocked upwards of 390 km an hour.”
Tom Bo and the other birds of prey at Shearwater fly several times a day, every day.
The Raptors staff are training the birds using positive reinforcement.
“As long as you’re the best you can for them, they’re going to do the best they can for you.”
Boak knows when the helicopters are ready to take off, so is Tom Bo.
“He’s going to check out the hangar, check around the airfield and make sure there’s nothing that’s going to pose a threat to the air craft,” says Boak.
After Tom Bo chases away any potential winged hazards, he receives a reward for a job well done.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kelly Linehan