Running wild on the 'Lik

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicole Sikorski
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Dogs, cats and birds may make wonderful pets, but not all of the animals on Incirlik Air Base are Fido and Whiskers.

With help from the 39th Civil Engineer Squadron pesticide entomologists, stray animals and pests are kept from bothering human residents.

"Ensuring safety on base is (our top priority)," said Sayilkan Cevher, 39th CES entomology leadman. "If we see a suspicious animal, we take it to the veterinary clinic."

Although they do not always pose a nuisance to residents on Incirlik AB, having stray animals in the local community can increase the risk of disease.

To counter this, the entomology team follows standards of integrated pest management methods, which biologically and economically minimize health risks for those living on base. The pest managers safely capture lost or stray animals, spray for mosquitoes, ants and other insects, as well as ensure the control of spiders and venomous snakes.

According to U.S. Army Capt. Hayley Ashbaugh, 39th Medical Group veterinarian, rabies is a more prevalent disease among stray dogs in Turkey than in the U.S., where it more frequently dwells in the wildlife population.

"With the fact that it is a 100 percent fatal disease, we take it seriously," said Ashbaugh. "A lot of the strays are friendly and people may want to help them, but you are not helping them by feeding or petting them because humans are put at risk."

The 39th MDG veterinary clinic inspects the stray animal facility monthly to ensure humane treatment of the animals.

Entomologists check the installation 10 hours per week to control the strays. After capturing stray animals on base, the entomologists take them to the stray animal facility and scan them for microchips so that they can be returned to their owners.

According to Cevher, in June 2013, the 39th CES captured 10 stray felines and recovered 34 bird nests, some of which were mission jeopardizing, having been lodged inside aircraft. Entomologists dedicate 45 hours per week searching for hazardous birds' nests on the flightline. Birds such as sparrows, crows and pigeons can present a large problem for flightline operations, he said.

Each entomologist is trained every three years at Ramstein Air Base, Germany and at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, in the Department of Defense applicator course. All chemicals used here at Incirlik AB must be approved at Ramstein AB before they can be put into the environment, said Cevher.

With a cautious eye for keeping the base disease and pest free, the entomology team is critical to not only the Incirlik AB mission but also keeping Air Force operations running smoothly.