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Airport bird strikes continue to worry passengers, pilots

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A new report claims the government is not doing enough to keep planes safe from colliding with birds.

With more planes and more large birds flying around, passengers and pilots are becoming more concerned.

The Department of Transportation study reports 75 incidents involving large birds and planes at Dulles and BWI within the last five years. 

Nationwide the number of bird strikes are growing at an alarming pace. In 1990, around 1,800 bird strikes were reported. Nearly 10,000 were reported just last year.

Airline passenger Paul Gilroy said, "It sounds like a lot, but in perspective, how many birds are there? And you're by the Potomac River. All those waterways are not that far away, and the number of birds are probably in the millions."

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials said more birds and more planes are to blame for the spike.

After the "Miracle on the Hudson" three years ago, the FAA spent more than $400 million to control the bird population near airports. But an inspector general's report found nearly half the airports checked out weren't keeping up the bird strike prevention guidelines.

"Every time I go and drop someone off at the airport, I go to the end of the runway and... I watch them take off," Rusty Walker of Woodbridge recalled. "I noticed the last time I went they used to have the cannons that would fire off to scare the birds, but I didn't notice them last time."

Reagan and Dulles have a full-time wildlife expert to help control the bird population.

Bird strikes are a very dangerous problem. Since 1988, bird strikes have resulted in 25 deaths.

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