Dallas Love Field Sends Birds Packing with Grape Extract

Staff Report | DFW Newsflash | December 2021

Dallas Love Field appreciates its wildlife visitors and supports the ecosystem it resides in, but it prefers to admire them from a safe distance. 

With many mammals and fowl visiting DAL throughout the day, birds create the biggest hazard because they are airborne and can enter aircraft flight paths. In fact, there are more than 15,000 bird strikes per year in the U.S. and damage from these collisions can exceed $400 million, according to the FAA. Aircraft at DAL are not immune from these occurrences, but they do have an added layer of protection.

Since 2019, Dallas Love Field’s environmental team and pest control applicator have deployed a non-toxic, but effective compound derived from grape extract to deter birds from flying onto airport property. The extract, formerly known as Methyl Anthranilate, is the same chemical used for providing grape flavor to food and “while we like it, birds do not” says DAL’s Wildlife Specialist Carl Franklin.  

The solution is applied to grass growing in the safety areas between runways and taxiways. It then remains on the grass until a heavy rain washes it away. After encountering the solution over time, the birds learn that better tasting food can be found elsewhere, according to Franklin.

Previously, Dallas Love Field’s environmental team reactively used harassment methods to get birds to leave the airfield, including the use of pyrotechnic devices. With the closure of one runway due to construction, that has not been an option with all flights being focused on a single runway. However, with this proactive approach, DAL has seen a significant reduction in the number of birds lingering around its single runway and strikes are down approximately 50 percent.   

While the grape extract solution has been widely used in agriculture, Dallas Love Field is one of only a few airports utilizing it to repel birds.  Franklin also points out that “many other airports use propane-powered noise cannons and shotguns (to scare away birds) so another benefit to the grape extract is that it works without creating additional noise.” With innovative approaches like this, DAL continues to advance its commitment to protect the environment for both wildlife and neighboring residents. 

SOURCE Dallas Love Field