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November 15, 2013

Luke Airman serves as “pest control” to keep down range mission moving

Tech. Sgt. JOSELITO ARIBUABO
379th Air Expeditionary Wing

SOUTHWEST ASIA — Insects, rodents and wildlife at a deployed location can negatively impact the mission, but thanks to the hard work of the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron pest management shop, these issues are effectively controlled.

“We are the pest control for the Air Force,” said Tech. Sgt. Lorie Simpson, 379th ECES pest management NCO in charge deployed from the 56th CES, and hails from Racine, Wis.

In a deployed location, entomology focuses on public health. They ensure living conditions meet regulated health-standards so deployed Airmen can continue their mission.

“Sanitation is essential in keeping critters away,” Simpson said. “Emptying trash daily and putting leftover food in the fridge until you’re ready to throw it away helps immensely in keeping critters out of the living and work space.”

When food is left out and individuals do not properly clean up after themselves, they invite insects and rodents. However, in the event Airmen do end up with critters, the 379th ECES have a self-help program providing resources such as baits, roach stations, mouse and rat traps free of charge. They also provide chemical free solutions to get rid of bugs and insects.In addition to controlling and managing small critters, pest management monitors wildlife on location.

Known as the Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard program, BASH, the program works to reduce and prevent large wildlife habitats from forming around the flightline, protecting both the aircraft and animals from lethal contact.

“We make sure the flightline area is free of wildlife, particularly pigeons,” Simpson said. “Bird airstrikes present a risk to aircraft taking off and landing here.”

An incident can damage engines and temporarily ground an aircraft. When an aircraft is grounded that’s valued time and assets lost supporting the mission.

A preventive and more permanent method of controlling the increasing numbers of pigeons is the placement of metal bird spikes and a plastic owl decoy as a deterrent.

“The lethal removal of any wildlife is always our last resort,” said Senior Airman Jordan Hocker, 379th ECES pest management journeyman deployed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and is from Indianapolis. “The safety of all living things is very important in our planning.”

In addition to keeping the flightline free of birds, pest management takes every measure to remove or relocate wildlife before it negatively impacts the mission. Hocker advises Airmen to avoid feeding stray cats, foxes and other wildlife on base.

“Feeding these animals increases their comfort around people,” Hocker said. “Leaving them alone helps to avoid being bitten and lowers the risk of exposure to any diseases carried by these animals.”

Whether it’s controlling the pest on the airfield, performing random quality inspections in facilities or monitoring disease vectors, pest managers continue to improve daily life on base.

“The key things to remember is keeping away from all wildlife and practicing good sanitation,” Simpson said. “It’s a cliché, but I like helping people and improving their quality of life here.”




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