By Alex DeMetrick

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ) — The further we move into fall, the greater the danger posed by deer. Nationally, there are thousands of deer-car collisions.

Alex DeMetrick reports what’s not so well known are the accidents between deer and airplanes.

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When a plane touches down on a runway, the last thing a pilot wants to see is a deer. But they are a fact of life–and risk–at small airports like the one in College Park. Despite it’s proximity to highways and shopping centers:

“On our north border of the airport, we’re surrounded by a densely wooded area with no natural predators. Once they get in here, they find a very comfortable home,” said Langston Majette, airport senior operations specialist.

Unlike large airports, which installed higher, stronger security fences after 9/11, College Park can only afford a partial barrier at this point and send out a noisy truck to scare deer off the runway. Still:

“We have situations where the pilot may have to circle around a couple of times while we make sure everything is clear before they can safely land,” Majette said.

Planes have clipped deer there before, but escaped damage. But nationally over the past three decades, there have been over 1,000 collisions. One person was killed and 29 were injured with $44 million in damage to aircraft.

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A search of YouTube shows what deer can do to a plane as it touches down on an open runway. There’s even amateur video of a near-miss.

While deer are a year round issue, things are about to get busier.

“It’s primarily heavy during the fall and the springtime. I guess it coincides with their mating,” Majette said.

Which means more trips by truck to flush deer back into the woods.

“But within five to ten minutes, they’ll be right back,” said Majette.

There are plans to extend College Park Airport’s fence to keep the deer out, but an earlier effort failed when a beaver dropped a tree and knocked down a fence inside the airport’s woods.

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