In August 1991, Jim Forbes, New York State Director of USDA Wildlife Services (WS), seized an opportunity to call a special meeting during an annual FAA Technical Center Airports Conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The invitees and attendees included FAA representative Eugene LeBoeuf; Technical Center representative Tom Hupf; USAF BASH Team representative Ron Meritt; WS New Jersey State Director Janet Sillings (Bucknall); Eastern Region FAA Airport Certification Inspector Vincent Cimino; USDA National Wildlife Research Center representative Richard Dolbeer; and Jim Forbes himself. The meeting was called to discuss heightened environmental issues and increases in population numbers of waterfowl, gulls and other large birds as they pertained to aviation safety.
During this first meeting, the Bird Strike Committee USA was born, and Jim Forbes was named first Chair of the Committee. His inspiration came from the Bird Strike Committee, Canada (BSCC), whose meetings Jim attended regularly in the 1980s. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) stated in Part 3 of their Airport Services Manual (Chapter 3) that each country should develop a bird strike committee, comprised of interested groups, to meet regularly and provide guidance regarding wildlife risk mitigation.
BSCC was one of the first committees established using the ICAO format.
Meeting attendee Eugene (Gene) LeBoeuf was the USA’s first FAA Wildlife Biologist (hired in 1989). One of his first orders of business was to use the newly formed BSC-USA to assist him in carrying out the myriad tasks he was responsible for. During his tenure from 1989 – 2005, while participating with the newly formed BSC-USA, Gene drafted the first FAA Advisory Circular, advocated to implement a robust National Wildlife Strike Reporting system and database, and rallied hard to bring wildlife aviation safety issues to the FAA’s forefront.
Early BSC-USA meeting agendas centered on the importance of data collection via a national strike reporting platform. Meetings held at JFK, SEA, ORD, and DFW in 1992 – 1995, respectively, grew in size and agenda. At the time of Jim Forbes’ retirement in 1996 there were no by-laws or formal committee rules. Dr. Richard Dolbeer, USDA Wildlife Biologist, was the technical director of annual organized meetings during Jim’s tenure, and when Jim stepped down from his position Richard took over the helm with help from WS’s Laura Henze in 1996-1997.
In 1997, Richard drafted the Committee’s by-laws which received a majority vote, and was also formally nominated as Chair of the Committee. The by-laws became the first organized charter of the BSC USA. Richard was voted in as the second BSC-USA Chair.
In 1998, Richard and BSCC Chair Bruce MacKinnon announced a partnership of joint annual BSC- North America meetings to be held alternately in Canada and the United States. This agreement began a collaboration that commenced in Vancouver Canada in 1999 and was followed until 2008, when the sudden death of Mr. MacKinnon created a void for BSC-Canada.
BSC-USA began as a meeting of a handful of professionals in 1991 whose platform was and still is to provide input to the FAA (and military when appropriate) for guidance and rulemaking pertaining to wildlife hazards to aviation. Annual meeting participation now exceeds hundreds of attendees representing the FAA, airlines, pilots, private and government wildlife and environmental professionals, civil and military aviation industry, and Airport Operations personnel over a three day agenda of presentations, posters, workshops, and field trips. Its leadership consists of an Executive Committee, a Steering Committee, and is supported by Standing Committees who all work together to provide leadership in managing wildlife hazards to aviation.
BSC has come a long way. And we look forward to great progress in the future. More details about BSC USA history can be found by CLICKING HERE.