INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
From bears to bees, wildlife has an impact on every installations and their respective missions. Some of those impacts can be small, while others could result in mission stoppage, but regardless of the size, it is the members of the 39th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management flight who help mitigate wildlife impact, here.
Some of the ways pest management mitigates the impact of animals on base is through their capture program. The capture program utilizes humane live traps to catch stray and wild animals roaming the base like cats, dogs and foxes.
Once caught animals are transported to a rest facility for holding. There the animals will be given food, water and shelter from the weather.
“The first thing we do after we capture any animals is we check them for a microchip,” said Cevher Sayilkan, 39th CE pest management flight director. “If it has a microchip we’ll take it to the veterinary clinic to find the owner. If the animal has no chip, we have a subcontractor we call to pick up the animal to take to an animal shelter in downtown Adana.”
The country of Turkey is a non-euthanizing country meaning no animal captured by the pest management flight is put down. Animals taken to the animal shelter off base are treated by a veterinarian and put up for adoption.
“We don’t kill the animals,” Sayilkan said. “For some reason, everyone thinks we kill the animals and that’s simply not true. In fact, most of the time we’re saving their lives. Some people see the animal trapped in the cage and think, ‘oh no I need to help him’ and will release them. It’s very frustrating and counterproductive for what we’re trying to do.”
While Sayilkan said he understands people are concerned for the animals’ safety and want to help them they’re actually doing far more harm than good. Most of the animals released from cages will never be caught by those means again.
“The dogs and cats are really smart,” Sayilkan said. “If someone releases them from a trap they won’t come back. That trap will not work on that animal again. They learn.”
Releasing the animals is not only potentially harmful for the animal, Airmen caught tampering with the cages could be charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Although it is difficult to capture previously released animals members of the pest management flight have come up with ways to be better affective.
“We’re always working to improve our traps,” Sayilkan said. “We put branches and foliage over the traps to make them appear more natural and now we’re putting more attractive bait in thanks to support from the 39th Force Support Squadron. Before we were using cat food or dog food bought from the commissary. Our DFAC is letting us use left-over food that normally would be put into the dumpsters as bait for our traps.”
Another tactic the pest management flight is trying to use is keeping their traps fully open or non-operational and baiting it to get the animals comfortable with eating from the traps. Once the team sees the animals have eaten the bait once or twice they’ll reset the trap as operational.
“Using methods like these we’ve captured 12 dogs this month,” Sayilkan said.
While some may be concerned for the safety of the animals others may be more concerned about their own safety around problematic animals on base.
“We understand that dogs can make our residents feel nervous, whether just hanging around or appearing to be aggressive,” said James Brendrindler, 39th CE director. “Everyone has different experiences in their life and anyone who has had a negative experience with a dog is going to feel some kind of way about dogs wondering on base.”
Sayilkan said he appreciates the level of care people have for the animals on the base, but if they want to assist the pest management flight call the CE service line at 676-7008, the same number used to place work orders, to report lost or stray animals on the base.
Brendrindler reminds people to not pet or feed strange animals on base or tamper with traps.