Deer are big-time culprits when it comes to planes colliding with wildlife across the world, but Bambi is far from the only one.
About 1,000 white-tailed deer caused $45 million in damage in reported plane strikes from 1990 through 2015, according to a report by the Federal Aviation Administration published in November.
All passengers escaped injury on Wednesday when an American Eagle plane hit a deer while taking off at Charlotte Douglas at about noon. The plane returned to the airport, and all of the passengers walked off the plane and were bused back to the terminal.
But from 1990 to 2015, planes also hit 529 species of birds, 42 other species of terrestrial mammals, 22 species of bats and 18 species of reptiles, according to the FAA report.
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Wildlife strikes killed about 260 airplane passengers and destroyed nearly 250 aircraft during that period, the report said.
The number of strikes annually reported to the FAA has increased 7.4-fold, from 1,847 in 1990 to a record 13,795 in 2015.
Waterfowl, gulls and raptors were the birds with the most damaging strikes, and deer and coyotes were tops among mammals.
Still, although the percentage of wildlife strikes with reported damage averaged 9 percent for the 26-year period, that figure declined from 20 percent in 1990 to 5 percent in 2015. “A negative effect-on-flight was reported in 6 percent and 20 percent of the bird and terrestrial mammal strike reports, respectively,” the FAA said.
Precautionary and emergency landings after wildlife strikes was the most commonly reported negative effect, 5,539 incidents in all.
Incidents included 53 in which the pilot jettisoned an average of 14,373 gallons of fuel to lighten aircraft weight, according to the FAA report.
Aborted take-off was the second most commonly reported negative effect, totaling 2,232 incidents.
As to which wildlife were struck by planes? Take your pick.
About 500 coyotes were hit, causing $3.8 million in damages. Planes also struck about 1,570 bats, totaling $4.5 million in damage, and nearly 6,000 hawks, eagles and vultures, at an estimated $111 million toll.
Nearly 1,600 Canada geese were hit by planes, producing $127 million in damages, and 10,586 gulls, for another $59 million in losses.
The list also includes species that caused little or no damage, including the 321 striped skunks that were hit by planes, the 213 turtles, 19 American alligators and 11 green iguanas, the FAA reported.
But the threat of wildlife-plane strikes continues to grow, according to the FAA, because of higher populations of large birds and increased air traffic by quieter, turbofan-powered aircraft.
“The civil and military aviation communities continue to understand that the threat from aircraft collisions with wildlife is real and increasing,” the report said.