Lessons Learned from Tragic Accident

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by Marissa Silver

Anchorage, AK - In September of 1995 the geese population in Anchorage was at 4,000 and that was a problem.

 
"The airplane flew through them and took several birds in the engines, I don't remember how many, but it was enough that it fatally crippled the airplane," said Joe Griffith who witnessed the AWACS crash.
 
The crash Griffith is talking about is the 1995 AWACS plane crash which left 24 airmen dead and is the only time an AWACS plane has crashed.
 
Griffith remembers seeing the smoke from the accident that morning.
 
"I saw the smoke pillar, I knew having seen it after already spending 24 years in the AirForce, I knew what that meant, that an airplane had gone down," Griffith said.
 
So after the crash the city of Anchorage knew they had to do something about the geese population.
 
"We probably had one of the least controversial and successful programs here to get a handle on geese" Rick Sinnott who is a Former Anchorage Area Wildlife Biologist said.
 
They needed a plan because it was projected that if they did not do something then, there would currently be around 20,000 geese in Anchorage.
 
So the plan they came up with at the time involved collecting goose eggs.
 
"We were collecting eggs from nests, we were collecting oh 300, 400, 500 eggs a spring from goose in town in the wetlands where they were nesting," said Sinnott.
 
Once they were collected the eggs were then donated to native elders so they were not wasted.
 
Additionally, if the eggs did hatch, the newborn geese were collected and relocated.
 
"We would gather them up sometimes as many as 300 and then take them across the inlet to Susitna Flats Refuge where it is is a wildlife refuge, but the main thing is when geese learn to fly, they fly south and then come back the next spring to where they learned to fly," Sinnott said.
 
Because of their efforts by 2001 the geese population in Anchorage dropped to around 1,500 where Sinnot believes it is today.
 
In order to keep the geese population low it's important to make sure not to feed the geese as this causes them to want to come back time and time again to this area.