Pilots and airport workers thought they were seeing something odd earlier this week when they reported FOD — or “foreign object debris” — on the runway at Barrow Airport in Alaska.
But this FOD was neither a bird, bear or musk ox. It was a 450-pound bearded seal.
Due to a Department of Transportation policy, animal control had to be called out to remove the seal — who was really not interested in taking up residence elsewhere. Officials say this might have had something to do with a storm having just passed through the area.
North Slope Animal Control was soon able to remove the massive mammal thanks to a sled.
While all sorts of animals are routinely seen on or near airport grounds, the seal sighting was a first, say those familiar with the airport.
“Wildlife strikes to aircraft pose a significant safety hazard and cost the aviation industry hundreds of millions of dollars each year,” Meadow Bailey, Alaska Department of Transportation director, said. “Birds make up over 90 percent of strikes in the US, while mammal strikes are rare. The safety of our aviation system and the traveling public is the primary goal during all wildlife control efforts.”