Airport wildlife risk management has been a big topic for me over the past 6-12 months. I've posted on the subject a bit here and over on New Airport Insider. But today, I'm going to talk about it in a different context.
Australians love to brag that the majority of the world’s deadliest land snakes originate from our brown land. While, the veracity of that claim varies between Internet lists, snakes are a fact of life down here.
Out in regional Queensland, my home airport has had a few encounters with snakes of the deadly kind.
Early last year, a rather large Eastern Brown snake tried to climb aboard a Q400. First, he took a passing look at the stairs before heading to the main landing gear. He was eventually herded up into an electric tug and contained while our friendly, neighbourhood snake catcher came to our rescue.
Unfortunately, our friendly, neighbourhood snake catcher moved away last year and in preparation for this season’s biblical plague of serpentine demons, we have had to take matters into our own hands.
To defeat your enemy, you must know your enemy
Last week, a group of volunteers from my airport team and I took part in a snake handling course and what a great course it was.
A couple of months ago, I whinged about a gun safety course I attended. It was poorly organised and at times, in my opinion, unsafe. This course was a completely different environment.
Both courses involved danger and risk but this course was well structured and appropriately resourced. The training team from Blackadder Reptiles progressively introduced us to the skills required and to the more dangerous species.
We started off with a small python (non-venomous) before moving on to a tree snake (also non-venomous). Once we had the climbing snake capture technique mastered and had gotten over our nerves, we moved on to the venomous varieties. This included the often ranked number 2 - the Eastern Brown. We finished the day off with a large python (only about 2m long) and a solo effort with another tree snake.
We’ll use this training to apply for our Damage Mitigation Permit. Once this is in place, we’ll be ready to relocate snakes posing a risk to passengers, workers and visitors at our airport.
Below is a short video showing me tackling the Eastern Brown.