FAA data show that the incidence of aircraft striking large birds has risen 62% since the 1990s, according to an analysis by USA TODAY, which reported that strikes of geese and other large birds surged from an average of 323 strikes annually during the last decade to 524 in the years spanning 2000 to 2007. "In most cases, it's going to be these large birds that are going to cause a catastrophe or a significant strike event," says Richard Dolbeer, the retired wildlife biologist who created the FAA database. But despite a growing population of large birds near U.S. airports, "Significant strikes are still a very small part of the total bird strike numbers," according to an FAA spokeswoman. Out of 58 million flights in 2007, only 15 bird strikes caused damage to an aircraft's engines, she said.
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