How's Work?: A Friendly Airport Raptor Catcher

Meet Bobby Hromack, a wildlife biologist at Pittsburgh International Airport.




PHOTO BY RENEE ROSENSTEEL

 

BOBBY HROMACK
Job: Airport Wildlife Biologist for Pittsburgh International Airport


What does it mean to be an airport wildlife biologist? 
We’re working to make sure people and wildlife can coexist without issues. Basically my position here is to protect human safety — [and] also to protect certain types of species and make sure they’re not attracted to areas close to the runways that would cause harm to humans. And to prevent bird strikes.

What is a bird strike? 
When a bird hits a plane, it’s called a bird strike. There are mammal strikes, too. We’re in an area with a lot of woods, so it’s an ongoing battle. That’s why I’m constantly out in the field.

How do you keep a bird from flying wherever it wants?
We have a wildlife hazard-management plan. We spell out the different things we need to do. For example, we keep the grass to a certain height — 6 to 10 inches — adjacent to runways. [That] doesn’t allow the grass to go to seed, which would be attractive to certain species.

When you tell people what you do, is there a standard reaction? 
Most people wouldn’t realize there’d be a wildlife biologist at an airport — but there are [more than 5,000] acres of woods surrounding Pittsburgh International Airport, so there’s a lot of different species to be concerned with.

What about this job appealed to you? 
I like helping people, and I also like helping wildlife. This was kind of a nice mix.

What do you focus on when you’re in the field? 
I’m always checking to make sure there are no issues where animals are getting in or caught in a fence or anything like that. Making sure the grass is at a certain height. Also, situational awareness is key. It’s real easy to not look where you’re going and drive out in front of a plane.

Do you have a most memorable day on the job? 
Trapping and relocating the short-eared owl [to a safer location]. It’s a state-threatened and endangered species . . . this is the first [such] raptor relocation here that I’m aware of. It’s time-intensive to catch raptors.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

The towns, neighborhoods, boroughs, main streets and small corners of western Pennsylvania that we call home -- and what we love about them.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Once again, our editors scour the city for 57 FRESH TAKES on our favorite things about Pittsburgh, including place to "get the boot," witness a nerd fantasy come to life, and snap a selfie with a furry.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Burger joints. Bar bands. Radio hosts. Here's the most popular stuff in town.
Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

A long-awaited update to Pennsylvania's beer-selling law prompted change to the region's brewpub scene.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks: When & Where to Watch Them

Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks: When & Where to Watch Them

You can get your fill of fireworks all weekend long, if you know where and when to look.
Historic Opportunity: Pittsburgh's Oldest House for Sale

Historic Opportunity: Pittsburgh's Oldest House for Sale

The home was built the same year George Washington won his second term in office.
Report: Penguins Try But Fail to Acquire Blackhawk's Brandon Saad

Report: Penguins Try But Fail to Acquire Blackhawk's Brandon Saad

Instead, the Pittsburgh-area hockey phenom is headed to Columbus.
Tamari to Disappear from Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene

Tamari to Disappear from Pittsburgh Restaurant Scene

Tamari's owners have decided to close their Warrendale location.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

The towns, neighborhoods, boroughs, main streets and small corners of western Pennsylvania that we call home -- and what we love about them.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Once again, our editors scour the city for 57 FRESH TAKES on our favorite things about Pittsburgh, including place to "get the boot," witness a nerd fantasy come to life, and snap a selfie with a furry.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Burger joints. Bar bands. Radio hosts. Here's the most popular stuff in town.
Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

A long-awaited update to Pennsylvania's beer-selling law prompted change to the region's brewpub scene.
PittGirl: A Feminist with Killer Shoes, Hear Her Rawr

PittGirl: A Feminist with Killer Shoes, Hear Her Rawr

PittGirl takes a history lesson in feminism, prompted by her daughter's love of dinosaurs.
Chic Summer Fashion: Get Ready for the Haute Wave

Chic Summer Fashion: Get Ready for the Haute Wave

These summertime looks sourced from Lawrenceville shops will keep you feeling cool and stylish.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module