This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Airports with bird problems are using more than pyrotechnics and noisemakers to scare off the hazardous nuisances.
An airport in south Florida has a border collie on full-time patrol. Several airports have falconers and falcons to dive-bomb unwanted feathered guests. But as far as the Rudy Duck Club knows, no one is using its bird control measures: Pigs.
Each of the past five years, members of the private duck club that borders Salt Lake International Airport has bought eight weaner pigs and put them up in shelters on the four islands that dot the club's 1,900 acres, says Rudy board member Lane Jensen.
"The seagulls were taking over the islands," Jensen says. Their nesting habits were "messing up the airport, it was killing off the island for any other nesting."
The club arranged for federal Wildlife Services people to try to scare the birds away, "but as soon as they'd leave they'd come right back."
The frustrated duck hunters realized they couldn't just shoot the gulls. "It's the state bird," Jensen says.
A rancher who grazes livestock near the club suggested the pigs would root in the gull nests for eggs and disrupt the breeding cycle. So the club put the pigs on the islands every April 1 and left them there for 2 1/2 months.
Because geese are twice as big as weaners, the little pigs learned not to mess with the hissing birds. The hunters keep two pigs on each 2- to 3-acre island so they don't get lonely.
Jensen takes his kids to the island to feed the pigs.
"They're just usually laying there sleeping. We yell 'Chewie' at them and they come eat. When you first get them, they're really cute. We get attached to them. They've got pretty good personality."
This year, the gulls didn't try to nest on the islands. "So it worked," Jensen says.