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NTSB Identification: GAA16CA129
The operator reported that during the takeoff roll, at the moment of rotation during night visual conditions, the pilot observed two white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) running across the runway. The pilot maneuvered the airplane to avoid the deer, however one of the deer impacted the nose wheel. The pilot decided to continue the takeoff, the airplane orbited the airport for about 1.5 hours, and then landed without further incident. A postflight inspection revealed substantial damage to the fuselage.

The operator verified that there were no preimpact mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation.

As a safety recommendation, the operator stated that wildlife strikes can be dealt with proactively through accurate reports from the airport users and airport management establishing a program of regular wildlife population control. The operator further stated that reporting wildlife activity is the most important element of this proactive approach and that without these reports airport managers cannot properly gauge the amount of timing of their response.

The operator reported that from a conversation with the airport manager that the deer population has increased on the airport because of hunting pressure in the surrounding areas.

The airport manager reported that all of the movement areas at the airport are fenced. He also reported that the airport fencing is "standard FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) specification 6 foot tall chain link fence with triple strand barbed wire at the top on standard 45 degree angle outriggers."

The FAA has published CERTALERT 04-16 Deer Hazard to Aircraft and Deer Fencing (December 2004). This document describes the deer hazard to aircraft and recommends various airport fencing options to mitigate deer and aircraft strikes. This document states in part;

Elevated deer populations in the United States represent an increasingly serious threat to both commercial and general aviation aircraft. It is currently estimated that there over 26 million deer in the United States. Because of increasing urbanization and rapidly expanding deer populations, deer are adapting to human environments, especially around airports, where they often find food and shelter.

Proper fencing is the best way of keeping deer off aircraft movement areas. The FAA recommends a 10-12 foot chain link fence with 3-strand barbed wire outriggers. In some cases an airport may be able to use an 8-foot chain link fence with 3-strand barbed wire outriggers, depending upon the amount of deer activity in a local area. All fencing must be properly installed and maintained.

If deer are observed on or near the aircraft movement area, immediate action must be taken to remove them.

The Georgia Department of National Resources Wildlife Resources Division has published White-Tailed Deer Fact Sheet (April 2004). This document describes the behavior patterns of the white-tailed deer and states in part;

Deer are most active around dawn and dusk. This is called a crepuscular activity pattern.