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Deer-jet accident prompts Beverly airport to bring in extra hunters
By Michael Puffer
Staff writer

BEVERLY — Motorists have roadside signs warning them to watch out for deer, but airplane pilots should keep the alert in mind, too, as one recent accident illustrates.

On Dec. 6 at 8 a.m., a nine-passenger Cessna jet touched down at Beverly Airport and had just reversed engines when a whitetail deer ran into its path.

Nobody was hurt, but the crippled deer had to be dispatched by a Beverly police officer with a shotgun. And three weeks after the accident the ill-fated jet is still being repaired. The jet was on its way to Robinson's terminal at the airport to pick up two businessmen for a trip to New York.

The accident prompted airport officials to call in extra hunters to beat back the threat they've long feared — that of deer wandering into the path of planes.

"We were afraid this might happen," said Ken Robinson, owner of the Beverly-based jet and plane service company North Atlantic Air. "We're fortunate it was just some minor damage and no loss of life."

For more than a decade, airport officials have allowed selected hunters to take down deer that wander onto its 412-acre property. And, recognizing the danger of a collision, MassWildlife allows the airport manager to select one person to hunt year-round, regardless of the hunting season.

During the regular November/December hunting season, that year-round hunter, Robert Young, brings three friends to help. All are careful to shoot from trees so that shots are angled at the ground, not neighbors, Young said. And shooting stands are set up far from the airport's borders, he said.

Since September, 13 deer have been shot, Airport Commission Chairman Leo White told Danvers selectmen Tuesday night during an update of business around the airport, nearly half of which is in Danvers.

"It's a danger," White said. "We are doing our darnedest to control it. But you know what deer are like — they just keep multiplying."

And the deer population's reproductive efforts have been aided by housing development and local ordinances, which have severely reduced the areas open to hunting in Northeastern Massachusetts, said MassWildlife biologist Bill Woyteck. This has led to increasing conflicts, such as when deer and cars meet on the roadways, he said.

"I'm happy to hear Beverly Airport is allowing hunters to go in, it's the cheapest and most effective option," Woyteck said.

Young agreed, saying the barring of hunters has turned places like nearby Beverly's Moraine Farm into "a maternity ward for deer."

"It's a simple thing for them to walk over to the airport," Young said. And the problem has become even worse this year, as a poor acorn crop has lured more hungry deer to the airport, he said.

Many Massachusetts airports are surrounded by woodland, and have long lived with the threat of a plane striking a deer, said Massachusetts Executive Office of Transportation spokesman Jon Carlisle, but that danger is rarely realized.

"Six or seven years ago a plane in Mansfield struck a deer, but that's the only one in recent memory to have occurred," he said.

Beverly is one of 14 Massachusetts airports that the state allows to bring in a designated hunter year-round.

The FAA ruled the Cessna's damage to be minor, since it can still fly, but its owner doesn't see it that way. The jet needs more than $80,000 in repairs, and having it out of commission for three weeks has cost $130,000 and counting, said Boston Air Charter owner Allen Bishop. And insurance doesn't cover lost business, said the Norfolk-based businessman.

Bishop said he'll sue the airport for his losses because, knowing the danger of a collision, he believes airport officials should have built a fence around the entire airport.

"To not have a wildlife fence completely around the airport is not proper in today's environment," Bishop said. "We don't typically have to land at airports at our own peril."

A 12-foot-tall wildlife fence around the sprawling airport could cost $500,000, White said, though he refused to comment on a lawsuit he'd never heard of before.

White's commission already put up an 8-foot-tall security fence around the Danvers and Wenham borders — but that's just to keep people out. A really determined deer could jump it or even walk around it, he said.

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"A 12-foot-tall wildlife fence around the sprawling airport could cost $500,000..."

So basically we are going to wait until people actually lose lives over this before someone puts up a fence. GREAT! Way to go. Unfortunatly, thats the way things work in our society. :roll:

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7,206 Posts
SAPD";p="50254 said:
That's a sweet job huh? So Bob what do you do for work. Well john I'm a hunter for the beverly airport :p

Scott :punk:
Think about almost sounds like a loss prevention job...7 1/2 hours of walking around and doing almost nothing all day (and being bored out of your mind), and half an hour eating lunch...I can't really say that that would be my ideal job...unless I was retired or I had a nagging wife or something. ](*,)
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