Coyote fence at airport cost $150,000 |

Coyote fence at airport cost $150,000

South Shore residents are no strangers to the howls and habits of coyotes.

The Lake Tahoe Airport was the happening hangout last summer for the wild canines which were often seen sunning themselves on the airport runway and roaming about searching for supper.

Airport personnel claimed the coyotes were disrupting runway operations and takeoffs.

After a series of meetings and discussions with city officials and local wildlife experts, airport officials opted to strengthen the 20,000-linear-foot fence surrounding the airport, in hopes of decreasing access to the property.

“We made some modifications to the fence with Federal Aviation Administration monies,” Airport Manager Rick Jenkins said. “We put some outriggers on the top to keep the coyotes from jumping over, and we also put fencing fabric along the base of the fence. Essentially, we hooked a 3-foot-wide fabric under the ground to stop the coyotes from digging under the fence.”

In September, officials expected the project to cost an estimated $20,000, which would come from FAA grant funds.

“It turned out to be a lot more than that,” Jenkins said. “It was about $150,000. It was expensive. Of course, $150,000 compared to the loss of an aircraft is probably pretty economical.”

Ninety percent of the improvements were paid for with FAA funds.

Since the completion of the fencing project, coyote capers at the airport have been greatly reduced, according to Jenkins.

“The amount of coyotes that are able to gain access to the airport has really been reduced,” he said. “There are a few more locations where we need to do some more work. Coyotes are very intelligent animals. They’ll find the littlest spot and get in.”

Despite the efforts and money put into the fencing improvements, the airport is not completely coyote-free.

“My impression is we’re doing better,” Jenkins said. “I don’t know if we’ll ever get to the point where the problem is 100-percent solved. Probably not. But we’ve reduced the coyote population. We’re down now to what is probably a core group that has fed on rodents at airport property over time and they’re just used to feeding here.”

Mindy Johnke, Oasis Aviation manager, said the coyote issue was blown out of proportion.

“We still have coyotes around, but they’re not really a nuisance,” Johnke said. “They haven’t disturbed anybody. They never did before, in my opinion.”

Jenkins said the barbed-wire outriggers at the top of the fence will keep out human intruders, as well.

“The outrigger with the barbed wire makes it safer here in a lot of ways, although it was designed for the coyotes,” Jenkins said.

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