Intruding coyotes leads to stronger surveillance at Dayton airport

Dayton International Airport is working with a local company that’s setting up a surveillance system to help keep coyotes from straying on to runways.

A coyote was found dead on a runway last year, the apparent victim of a collision with an aircraft, said Terry Slaybaugh, Director of Aviation. Wednesday, the city agreed to spend $20,000 to fund a six-month demonstration project with Persistent Surveillance Systems for a “wide-area” camera system to monitor the airport grounds.

The company has been mentioned as a possible contractor for airborne surveillance to assist the Dayton Police Department, but no final decision has been made.

The high-resolution airport camera will be located at a single monitoring spot on top of the former Emery building, Slaybaugh said. It’ll monitor wildlife activity only. It’s believed coyotes are slipping under a perimeter fence. The airport has had success keeping Canada Geese away, and the higher fence has kept whitetail deer out, but coyotes and foxes continue to be a problem.

The camera images would be transmitted back to a PSS office at Tech Town in Dayton, where trained analysts from both PSS and the city could review it. They hope the camera will help them learn the animals’ habits, so the airport can come up with new strategies.

Persistent Surveillance Systems has operations in Beavercreek, Xenia and at Dayton’s Tech Town business park. It builds air- and ground-based camera systems that have helped police departments in the U.S. and Mexico solve 34 murders, according to Ross McNutt, PSS president.

In September, the Dayton Daily News reported that the airport was considering a stronger electronic security system as other airports around the nation consider beefing up perimeter security. Perimeter security is seen by some experts as being neglected nationwide.

Dayton International Airport is protected by eight miles or so of 10-foot-high fence topped by three strands of barbed wire. There’s a road inside the fence line and police patrols. In the past four years, the airport reports that it has recorded only a handful of incidents. In one, a homeless man scaled the fence in the middle of the day.

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