The population of ground squirrels in the area of Liszt Ferenc International Airport will be surveyed in April so that experts can get a more comprehensive picture of the spatial distribution of ground squirrels at the airport, Herman Otto Intézet Nonprofit Kft says.
On the territory of the Liszt Ferenc International Airport, on the large lawn between the runways, taxiways, parking lots, parking areas and hangars, lives one of the most important groups of ground squirrels in Hungary – reads the announcement.
As they recall, groundhogs were still considered agricultural pests a few decades ago, and there was a monetary reward for each groundhog tail turned in.
Similar to the global population, populations in Hungary have declined severely due to a sharp decrease in the number of suitable habitat patches, which is why the species was declared protected in 1982. In addition to reducing remaining habitat patches, their increasingly strong isolation is also a problem. Today, these Habitat patches are almost exclusively independent, unrelated groundhog populations.
They added: Since the 1980s, resettlement programs have begun in Hungary, carried out in many cases within the framework of EU-funded nature conservation tenders, and from 2018 ground squirrel resettlement programs will be coordinated. Due to the alarming decline in local ground squirrel numbers, in 2012 the species was granted enhanced legal status in Hungary, with a conservation value of 250,000 HUF.
In a statement, the Hermann Otto Institute stressed that the protection of animals in the airport area is very important for Budapest Airport, and that biodiversity protection focuses on preventing and mitigating collisions with wild animals.
The Budapest Airport operator regulates the protection of birds and wild animals in accordance with the Handbook for the Protection of Birds and Wildlife.
During a large-area groundhog survey on April 3, experts will get a more comprehensive picture of the spatial distribution of groundhog populations at the airport. Conservationists at Herman Otto Intézet Nonprofit Kft. Also in the survey, and in the Wildlife Program in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture – along with 17 other protected animal and plant species – have been collecting data on the distribution of ground squirrels and some risk factors in the country with the active participation of volunteers for nearly a decade and a half now. By scanning, they can expand the database with a large amount of data, since they have little data about the site yet, they wrote.
The survey was also declared a necessary prerequisite and data source for the resettlement also planned for the first half of April.
They added that relocation is necessary because some taxiways and airport concourses have to be widened by a few meters due to aviation safety regulations, and ground squirrels may also live in areas affected by the regeneration. However, according to Hungarian legislation, expansion can only take place after the ground squirrels living there have been resettled.
Highlighted: Captured ground squirrels will be given a new home in a designated, safer, grass-dominated area away from the airport.
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