Cayman Islands Airports Authority staff and volunteers have relocated dozens of wildlife species to neighbouring ponds at Owen Roberts International Airport to facilitate upgrades, according to the CIAA.
Equipped with fishing poles, holding tanks, pole nets and cast nets, the team, led by CIAA safety officer Megan Ramnarine of the Airport Safety Office, relocated hickatees, tarpon, mosquito fish, crusted goby, tilapia and other wildlife that resided in the ponds west of the runway, the authority said in a press release.
The wildlife relocation forms part of the Airport Authority’s airfield-upgrade project, which began in December, to improve operations and safety standards at the airport.
The ponds, located within the airfield perimeter, were identified during a study of wildlife at the airport, the Airports Authority stated.
It said the ponds not only provide a source of food and water for birds, but also a safe place to rest during their annual migration. The movement of the birds in and out of these areas consequently present a hazard to the safe operation of aircraft.
There are several ponds of varying size west of the start of Runway 08, one pond to the south of the runway, and one pond adjacent to the fire station.
Once the ponds are cleared of wildlife, they will be drained and filled with large-sized ‘Rip-Rap’ stone, the CIAA statement said. Geotextile fabric will be placed over the stone, and granular fill material will be compacted over the ponds to allow for extension of the runway into the area.
“We could not have saved these precious animals without the help and commitment of all the volunteers,” said Ramnarine in the press release.
The safety officer was recently trained on hazardous wildlife control at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport in the US and used the knowledge gained there to assist in the planning and execution of this project. The airfield-upgrade project is expected to be completed in August 2020.