Airplanes have hit more turtles than drones

How necessary are the FAA's efforts to curb the number of drones in no-fly-zones? One researcher has lent some perspective to the problem. Eli Dourado, a researcher at the Mercatus Center, used the FAA's publically-available Wildlife Strike Database to pull data on the amount of turtles hit by planes on the ground compared to drone strikes in the air. Between January 1, 1990 and July 31, 2015, airplanes have collided with 198 turtles in the U.S., with 112 strikes occurring after 2010. Meanwhile, no aircraft in the U.S. has ever struck a drone — though there have been numerous close calls. See also: The 100 best iPhone apps of all time “I picked turtles because turtles are funny,” said Dourado, speaking to Popular Science. “You don’t think of turtles as posing much of a threat to planes, and they don’t. "If we’ve hit turtles 198 times and drones 0 times, then maybe we are worrying too much about collisions with drones." By popular demand, aircraft-turtle collisions over time — Eli Dourado (@elidourado) December 18, 2015 The FAA's database is entirely self-reported. That leads Dourado to believe the high number of turtle strikes since 2010 is due to the fact that people are more likely to report incidents online. It is, however, somewhat misleading to compare the two numbers, since the rise of consumer drones is a relatively recent phenomenon. The pre-drone equivalent would be remote-controlled model airplanes, although the range of a model airplane is much more limited than a drone. While this data does put the U.S.'s drone problem in perspective, there's a significant difference between a small reptile that lives on land and water and a remote-controlled quadcopter. It's not likely a turtle would ever collide with an airplane at height, where damage potential is more significant, but that's a very real possibility with a drone. So yes, airplanes have hit lots of turtles on the ground and no drones in the air — but that doesn't mean that there will never be a drone strike in the future. Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments. window._msla=window.loadScriptAsync||function(src,id){if(document.getElementById(id))return;var js=document.createElement('script');;js.src=src;document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0].parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}; _msla("//","twitter_jssdk");