MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --
Insects, rodents, snakes and weeds, what do these things have in common? They all are capable of interfering with our mission and well-being.
It is the job of the 341st Civil Engineer Squadron pest management team to eradicate these irritants to ensure the safety of the base populous and the continued success of the mission.
Pest management is also responsible for keeping the base free of pests possibly carrying debilitating infectious diseases.
Mosquitoes are amongst the most dangerous and problematic pests they deal with.
“Mosquitoes carry dangerous viruses and are detrimental if not contained,” said Staff Sgt. Kelly Hamilton, 341st CES pest management craftsman.
Birds nesting inside buildings presents a danger, as well.
“With birds, the best method is using air cannons or any louds sounds,” said Hamilton. “We are authorized to shoot if needed, but we don’t want to kill any animals unless we have to.”
In addition to their duties on base, they are required to respond to infestations and other issues throughout the missile complex. While critters are a continuing problem, weeds are their biggest concern in the missile field.
“Per Air Force Instruction, there cannot be weeds blocking the view of missile sites,” said Hamilton. ”It becomes a security and surveillance issue.”
In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as local and state regulations, pest management gives proper consideration to the environment prior to undertaking any action that may affect the environment.
There are various kinds of pesticides used to accomplish particular missions, but the objective, however, is to use none or as little chemicals as possible.
“Using chemicals is our last resort,” said Airman 1st Class Danny Jones, 341st CES pest management journeyman. “We want to ensure we keep our chemical use down to a minimal level.”
The use of mechanical control, such as establishing fences, barriers or making repairs is one way of avoiding chemicals. Biological control, on the other hand, is a natural control, usually performed by other organisms.
“Our main focus when doing our daily operations is to go with the method with the least environmental footprint to our community and our Air Force base,” said Hamilton.