Shortly after rising into the Lee’s Summit morning, SkyFox pilot Steve Culli and Nick Vasos spotted the trickle of deer grazing in an open field near the airport’s ribbon of runways.

And while Mark, Loren and Don teased each other back on the Fox 4 Morning News set, Culli lifted the helicopter several hundred feet so the helicopter’s TV camera could get a good shot of the assorted bucks and does. Nick, only minutes into his day, had his first traffic report ready made.

Shortly after rising into the Lee’s Summit morning, SkyFox pilot Steve Culli and Nick Vasos spotted the trickle of deer grazing in an open field near the airport’s ribbon of runways.
And while Mark, Loren and Don teased each other back on the Fox 4 Morning News set, Culli lifted the helicopter several hundred feet so the helicopter’s TV camera could get a good shot of the assorted bucks and does. Nick, only minutes into his day, had his first traffic report ready made.
Ironically, when the anchors introduced their in-flight colleague a short time later, Nick not only reported on the deer next to the Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport, but an earlier deer-car collision in the Northland.
While there are no good outcomes when deer and cars mix it up, the presence of deer on runways is an even more frightening possibility. John Ohrazda, the manger of the Lee’s Summit Airport, tells of the time when a buck darted onto the runway just as a small aircraft was taking off. The pilot was unaware of the animal until the plane was about 6 feet off the ground. Even then, he wasn’t exactly sure what it had been that had come protruding up through the floor of the airplane. It had been the deer’s rack.
In case you’re wondering, the plane, pilot and deer all survived – albeit considerably shaken.
And despite the recent sighting by SkyFox of deer at the airport, the risks of deer-airplane disasters at that facility have been reduced substantially.
In fact, action by airport officials, after consultation with the Missouri Department of Conservation, is being hailed as a model for at least four other suburban airports in the state. Chalk up a victory for the humans in the deer management campaign.
“Prior to the installation of this fence, we had four areas at the airport where groups of deer were living,” Ohrazda said. “Those deer are now gone!”
Funded through the Federal Aviation Administration, the airport was able to construct a 12-foot fence around the entire facility. That’s about 27,000 linear feet of chain link. If you’ve driven that short stretch of Colbern Road near Douglas Road, then you’ve probably wondered what the fence was all about.
And except for that small section at the far south end of the airport property, the fence is pretty much inconspicuous. Except to the deer, of course.
Although putting up a fence seems pretty obvious, the Lee’s Summit Airport deer issue was thoroughly analyzed. Deb Burns, Kansas City Wildlife Regional Supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation, put her full expertise to work as did Ryan Wood, a former Conservation agent and now a Highway Patrolman from Troop A.
“The Lee’s Summit community is one of the highest deer-density areas in the Kansas City Metro,” explained Joe Debold, Urban Wildlife Biologist for the Conservation Department.
And Lee’s Summit residents can feel good about all the aspects of the project. They now have one of the busiest and safest business airports in the state thanks to their $500,000 chain link fence. But with the satisfaction that not one penny of taxpayer money went into the solution.
It’s a win-win scenario. Even for that buck, who now just has to be mindful of his rack instead of that pesky SkyFox helicopter.