Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, one of Europe’s busiest transportation hubs, has recruited a team of 20 pigs to help prevent geese and planes from colliding into each other, which is often fatal for the birds and hazardous for the planes.
The land that the airport is situated on is below sea level, which makes for rich and fruitful farmland. The fertile land attracts birds looking to forage and roost, which puts them at risk of being struck by a passing plane. In the last year alone, 150 bird strikes were recorded at Schiphol Airport.
The pigs, who occupy an area the size of four soccer fields, are tasked with grazing the farmland in between the airport’s runways, effectively clearing the residue from the sugar beet harvest. The pigs ensure that there’s nothing left for the geese to snack on, which keeps the birds off the fields.
According to Josse Haarhuis, the owner of the pigs and Buitengewone Varkens (Extraordinary Pigs), the pigs don’t mind being so close to the runways and feel quite at home there as they have the same houses, water system, and feed system as they would on a conventional farm.
The pig partnership is still new, so it’s difficult to say how much of an impact they will have, however, so far it seems promising. Yvonne Vertsteeg from Schiphol Flora and Fauna reports that for the few weeks that the pigs have been grazing the fields, none of the bird controllers who are responsible for keeping track of bird activity at the airport have seen any birds in the area.
This unexpected solution is being used together with bird-scaring technology such as sound generators and green lasers.