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Thread: Aerial Predator Control - Who, where, and how?

  1. #1

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    Aerial Predator Control - Who, where, and how?

    Hi All,

    New to this forum and still to commercial aviation in general Have been working as an aerial survey pilot for about a year, mostly in the mountains, and before that towed banners for a spell so have a few hundred hours of tailwheel/low level time. Majority of my flying, including training was done in the mountains. I am NOT interested in going into the airlines! My interest is much more piqued by the idea of keeping as low and slow as I can I’ve been prowling the web for any info I can find on any bush-flying related jobs, but I know that is no substitute for talking to aviators who have been there, done that. And so, I would love to hear from any of you who have done something of the wild, mountain flying sort for work. Predator control, fire suppression/scouting, wildlife survey, etc.
    It seems like the “going” hours on USAjobs flying for the forest service is 1500. Are there any private companies out there that do these types of jobs, or is it mostly government?
    Would you guess that that my banner towing combined with mountain flying experience would be valuable, or are they looking for ag experience?
    —-> Any other tips and tricks y’all could offer! Thanks in advance!
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  2. #2
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    The tariffs on goat and sheep from foreign countries has greatly helped those industries and upped the need for predator control. I installed a shooter window, Performance STOL flaps and several other mods setting up a Super Cub for preditor control. The owner told me recently that the demand has increased so much he was thinking of buying another Super Cub. He works for the ranches, not the government.
    Steve Pierce

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    Trickle down did it Steve?

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    hotrod180's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Pierce View Post
    The tariffs on goat and sheep from foreign countries has greatly helped those industries …..
    Off topic, but I'm curious about this statement.
    Is that a US tariff on hunting trophies,
    or a US tariff on importing additional exotics,
    or ?
    Cessna Skywagon-- accept no substitute!

  5. #5
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Sheep and goats, like cows.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers
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    aktango58's Avatar
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    Low and slow??

    Didn't Henny post a Beaver position up for grabs... with benefits?
    I don't know where you've been me lad, but I see you won first Prize!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Pierce View Post
    Sheep and goats, like cows.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Anybody else turned on by that picture?
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  8. #8
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    Just you Kevin, just you.
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers
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  9. #9
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Look here: these are not predator control, but... .

    https://www.fws.gov/aviation/faq.htm

    This is the Federal agency that is responsible for predator control:
    https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/wildlifedamage/programs/ct_atoc


    MTV
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    Any of them over 18

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    Rockymtnflyer: "Are there any private companies out there that do these types of jobs, or is it mostly government?"

    Mostly government, but that's changing as there's currently a massive shift to more privatization. If you can tolerate government employment, flying an overweight Husky and doing a commercial instrument checkride every 6 months, that’s a great avenue. There are a handful of private aviation outfits in the mix, most are after the work to fill in between capture/application/seeding jobs. There’s only one contractor that provides the full suite of ground and aerial predator control services.

    The Utah DWR flies a cherry fleet of 185’s for survey and fish release; but those seats are earned by very high time pilots (who also fly the Bell 206's). A few of the contract SEAT companies in the fire business have reputations for being the choice contractor to call on really tough fires, and they're known for taking extremely good care of their pilots, but they'll want to see several thousand hours of ag time before they put you in one of their 802’s.

    Rockymtnflyer: "Would you guess that that my banner towing combined with mountain flying experience would be valuable,"

    It’s a great start, but anyone hiring for low level work wants to see large amounts of time. Everyone who flies ag/wildlife knows someone who’s died doing it. It’s a demanding job with no margin for error. No operator will put someone green in a seat where they're a high risk to themselves/crewmembers.

    Rockymtnflyer: "or are they looking for ag experience?"

    That’s arguably the best place to build relevant hours and experience. Low level maneuvering is really a flight regime unto itself, and ag flying is the most applicable path to that experience.

    Rockymtnflyer: "Any other tips and tricks y’all could offer!"

    Go get a job with an applicator outfit and don’t refuse to be on the ground while you earn your chops. Prove yourself as a good hand on the ground and that will guarantee you a seat. Once you've sprayed a million acres you’ll be able to transition to any type of low level maneuvering flying you’d like, and stay safe doing so.

    Lastly, but important, the most valuable pilots for any of the low level ag, wildlife or fire work have their fixed-wing and rotorcraft tickets. Almost all this work is conducted from both platforms depending on situation/protocols/project/etc. From an operator's perspective, the flexibility and capability of a pilot who can go from a plane to a chopper really, really makes a difference when looking to hire a guy. Most of these outfits stay busy year-round, knowing there are times when certain aircraft will be parked for months on end. By having dual capable pilots, they can keep the same guys working with the same crews full time. If you show up as just a fixed wing pilot, your value is lower, your cost to them is higher, and if you do get hired on for more than a certain project/season, you'll be on the ground or laid off on the helicopter projects.
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  12. #12
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunner View Post
    Rockymtnflyer: "Are there any private companies out there that do these types of jobs, or is it mostly government?"

    Mostly government, but that's changing as there's currently a massive shift to more privatization. If you can tolerate government employment, flying an overweight Husky and doing a commercial instrument checkride every 6 months, that’s a great avenue. There are a handful of private aviation outfits in the mix, most are after the work to fill in between capture/application/seeding jobs. There’s only one contractor that provides the full suite of ground and aerial predator control services.


    Lastly, but important, the most valuable pilots for any of the low level ag, wildlife or fire work have their fixed-wing and rotorcraft tickets. Almost all this work is conducted from both platforms depending on situation/protocols/project/etc. From an operator's perspective, the flexibility and capability of a pilot who can go from a plane to a chopper really, really makes a difference when looking to hire a guy. Most of these outfits stay busy year-round, knowing there are times when certain aircraft will be parked for months on end. By having dual capable pilots, they can keep the same guys working with the same crews full time. If you show up as just a fixed wing pilot, your value is lower, your cost to them is higher, and if you do get hired on for more than a certain project/season, you'll be on the ground or laid off on the helicopter projects.
    I have no idea what government agency requires its low level VFR pilots to take a commercial and instrument checkride every six months. I never heard of that in that type of work. Maybe pilots flying IFR a lot, but VFR pilots?

    I worked for a government agency for a lot of years, and the only instrument checkride I ever took for the agency was a night VFR checkride for Alaska ops.....which made a lot of sense, frankly. That was all point to point work, however.

    As to dual rating, I totally agree that a pilot with both fixed and rotary wing experience and certification would be a great find. Good luck finding that person, however.

    Some agencies of the government do use both, of course, but most of the helicopter work is done by contractors. Heck, we had a hard time finding qualified fixed wing pilots, let alone finding dual rated folks.

    We (and a lot of other agencies) use "Dual Function" pilots, where the pilot duties are PART of the employee's duties. The other specialties include things like law enforcement, wildlife biologist, ranger, and a few others, in my experience. With those jobs, the combination of skills makes recruiting difficult. Most often, the agencies find either pilots or biologists. Similar issue to what Henny and his Forest Service operation are facing. But, come in the door with a degree in wildlife biology or similar, or go through the hoops to become a qualified law enforcement officer in the federal system, and 500 hours PIC should get you in the door.

    Some outfits like the Alaska State Troopers have dual rated pilots, but not many, and law enforcement work comes first, with that agency, and most similar ones.

    Finally, consider right now that air taxi operators (and just about everyone else in aviation these days) is having fits finding qualified pilot applicants for basic fixed wing jobs. Just try to find a dual rated applicant with any experience these days, who's looking for a job.

    MTV

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockymtnflyer View Post
    Have been working as an aerial survey pilot for about a year, mostly in the mountains, and before that towed banners for a spell so have a few hundred hours of tailwheel/low level time.
    Since you say you already have a job flying low level aerial surveys in the mountains, my first question is , what is wrong with your current job?
    Want to move on to wilder jobs faster or what? My recommendation would be to stick with the job you have and build the time you need to move on. If the time isnt coming fast enough, find a reasonable taildragger and suppliment the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mvivion View Post
    I have no idea what government agency requires its low level VFR pilots to take a commercial and instrument checkride every six months. I never heard of that in that type of work. Maybe pilots flying IFR a lot, but VFR pilots?

    MTV
    That's the new policy out of ATOC for their pilots. Big changes have taken place there, it's not what it used to be.

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    mvivion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunner View Post
    That's the new policy out of ATOC for their pilots. Big changes have taken place there, it's not what it used to be.
    Oh, you mean the agency that was flying around at night a while back in aircraft that were never certificated for night flight?

    MTV

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    Aerial Predator Control - Who, where, and how?

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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunner View Post
    If you can tolerate government employment, flying an overweight Husky and doing a commercial instrument checkride every 6 months, that’s a great avenue.

    That information is incorrect. No IFR rides. No Husky’s. Not even one.

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    TopHeavy: "We do 2 rides a year but the rest of your info has been diluted and spiced up a little. There are zero Huskys in the fleet."

    You're right, I should have said "overweight government cub." Now, please tell me exactly where I said something that's been spiced up? Lets discuss the details.

  19. #19
    S2D's Avatar
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    I think "ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING" !!!

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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by aktango58 View Post
    Low and slow??

    Didn't Henny post a Beaver position up for grabs... with benefits?
    Henny? Who would that be?

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