Wildlife management

Keeping birds away from the runway is important for the safety of planes and passengers.

Wellington Airport is considered low risk by the CAA compared to other airports because of our wildlife management program.

Of biggest concern is the black-backed gull, which is a scavenger bird and the most widespread coastal bird in Wellington.

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These birds are unwelcome and not just because of the risk they pose to planes. They also carry bacteria and are a threat to many of our native bird species.

Occasionally we need to use loud noises as one of several methods to scare the birds away, which can include horns, sirens and pyrotechnics. This tends to be at sunrise and sunset when birds congregate on the runway.

What we are doing

Every year we invest considerable time and resources to manage and monitor the local gull populations. This includes:

  • Using GPS tracking to monitor gull movements.
  • Keeping grass short and using a special grass on the runway and taxiway areas to repel birds.
  • Equipping airside vehicles and the roof of our main terminal with distress calling systems to deter birds.
  • Monitoring and managing nests to ensure they do not increase to levels that create an unacceptable risk of bird strike.
  • Working with landfill owners on what they can do better to reduce numbers.
  • Supporting revegetation programmes in the Miramar Peninsula and Greater Wellington region to alter the habitat available to gulls.
  • Work with the Black-Blacked Gull Working Group which includes airlines, councils, land owners, conservation groups and Victoria University.

What you can do to help

  • Please don’t feed black-back gulls or leave food lying around.
  • Conceal food waste by tightly covering.