San Jose teenager, and Branham High School junior, Caleb Levine, has created special “Raptor Traps” to be used to capture red-tailed hawks and other large birds that are attracted to airports. The 16-year-old built the traps for his Eagle Scout project because he wanted to make something that would help wildlife.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has already expressed great interest in the invention and will use it to relocate red-tailed hawks that fly into the Mineta San Jose International Airport. Bird strikes are actually common at airports and endanger the lives of birds and plane passengers alike. The Federal Aviation Administration’s reports show that bird strikes have forced at least one plane a day to make a premature landing over the last two decades. USDA Biologist, Megan Klosterman, helped Levine figure out how his trap might work. Klosterman said in a press conference that the birds, “naturally like to hover over the runways because of the thermals and the prey.”
The traps, designed by Levine and his father, are improvised cage traps. They are constructed with materials bought from home improvement stores, such as Lowe’s. All stores gave the Levines a discount once they learned about Caleb’s project. To attract the larger birds, pigeons are placed inside the trap as bait. Once the large bird enters the trap, it activates the wooden bar and closes the mesh sides. Levine’s design ensures that neither the large bird or pigeons are hurt. News station KTVU interviewed Levine and asked him how he felt about his traps helping save hawks. Levine said, “It does feel a little better to help one or two hawks that might have hit a plane.”
One hawk has already been captured at San Jose International Airport. All birds captured will be released into the wild. Levine hopes that his Raptor Traps will make their way to other airports around the country. He told KTVU, “I think this could go big because it helps so many people, so many birds.”