You’ve likely seen airport baggage handlers and ground crews wearing safety vests and hearing protection while engaged in their work, but at Pittsburgh International, personnel who spend time on the tarmac might want to consider adding blaze orange jackets and bright caps to their attire.
That’s because Pennsylvania wildlife authorities say that an increase in illegal hunting on the 9,000-acre fenced facility has the potential to pose a significant danger to planes and personnel at PIA.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Game Commission told the Allegheny Times this week that trespassers who brazenly enter the airport compound in pursuit of deer are a growing problem for safety officers there.
Why the airport, when there’s plenty of wild hunting land available in the Keystone State?
Easy answer: Craig Swope, district supervisor for the USDA Wildlife Services Division, said there are hundreds, if not thousands of whitetail roaming the sprawling facility.
“There are certainly some very nice bucks in there—bucks of a lifetime—and many have never been hunted before,” Swope said “It’s not uncommon to see 40 or 50 together in a two-acre field. That’s not normal, and for some, hunting there is worth the risk of being caught.”
The temptation of a huge buck was evidently what prompted a father and son to hunt illegally at PIA last week.
According to the Allegheny Times, police said William Kuriger, 64, dropped off his 41-year-son near an airport gate around 2:45 p.m. last Tuesday. Authorities arrested the camo-garbed, rifle-toting younger Kuriger inside the gated area. Police cited him with trespassing and his father with disorderly conduct, and the Pennsylvania Game Commission said it intends to cite the son for not wearing appropriate safety clothing.