Wildlife management

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

The Civil Aviation Authority considers Wellington Airport to be low risk for wildlife incidents due to the low number that occur for the volume of traffic we experience.

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.

Sometimes you may hear sirens, bangs, horns, and even fake bird calls coming from the airport. These are all auditory dispersal methods that Wellington Airport uses to disperse wildlife without causing harm.

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 operators to reduce the amount of food available to opportunistic species such as seagulls from unnatural sources.
  • 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.