Coyotes becoming a safety hazard at Elkhart airport

ELKHART, Ind. -- The Elkhart Municipal Airport is having problems with coyotes nearly causing accidents as planes take off and land at the airport. The airport has been give permits from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to kill the coyotes to keep pilots and their passengers safe.

Pilots need a clear runway to take off and land safely.

That's becoming more and more difficult at the Elkhart Municipal Airport.

"Coyotes are a very shy and intelligent animal, they have the ability to adapt well especially in an area like this. If you look around the airport, the airport is made up of fields and around the airport is made up of fields and small woodlands so it's the ideal property for coyotes to live in. It's a great habitat for them," said Conservation Officer Ken Dowdle of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Lately, there have been so many coyotes, that they've become a safety hazard for the planes.

Airport officials say a few times, pilots have had to make last minute changes to their take off and landing patterns to avoid hitting one. 

At first, officials tried to trap the animals to move them elsewhere. 

That didn't work.

"They can adapt to the noise of an airport, they can adapt to the traffic, they can adapt to the residential area, but they are intelligent, so trapping them is not always that easy," said Dowdle.

Now when a coyote is spotted too close to the airport, orders are to shoot to kill.

It's the only way to avoid disaster on the runway.

"Because there really is no other way, especially when you are talking about deer and coyotes," said Dowdle.

The airport has permits from the DNR to shoot deer and coyotes.

Already this year, three coyotes have been killed and there are still several more out there.

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