Section helps to ensure base, wildlife coexist peacefully

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rebecca R. Imwalle
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
In an environment where wildlife can roam freely, one group of specialized Airmen go to great lengths to ensure it and Ellsworth's most precious asset - its Airmen - are able to live together peacefully.

They are the Airmen from the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron Pest Management Section, Ellsworth's first line of defense against animals and insects that may pose danger or carry harmful diseases.

"We deal with everything from bugs to raccoons, deer and birds," said Senior Airman Juan Valencia, 28th CES pest management technician. "We do what we can to keep everyone safe and make sure the mission continues."

Ken Grimes, 28th CES pest management foreman, said pest management programs are essential to prevent pests and diseases from adversely affecting military operations in peacetime and during contingency operations.

"Identifying the problem is always the first step during an assignment," Grimes said. "Prevention methods are then taken, along with sanitation of the area, followed by eliminating pests."

Technicians utilize a variety of methods to remove pests and safeguard people that range from live traps to chemicals specially designed to eliminate the pests quickly without causing any undue harm to people or the environment.

"The chemicals we use are always a last resort for pest problems," Grimes said. "But in the event that they are necessary, our pest management programs are safe, effective, environmentally sound and designed to minimize pollution and other risk factors associated with their use."

Grimes explained that when customers report pest or animal disturbances, he and his team spring into action and set up live traps. Once the pest or animal is trapped, it is then humanely relocated to a safe location on base.

Valencia said that not only are the Airmen of the Ellsworth pest management section vital to keeping Airmen and base facilities safe, but they also play a key role in ensuring operations on the flightline don't come to an abrupt halt. Wildlife can pose a threat to aircraft.

"We keep B-1s safe from birds and deer that may accidentally end up on or around the flightline," Valencia added. "One bird could potentially take a B-1 down, resulting in a lot of money for repairs, or even the loss of life. It's our responsibility to help the base work at maximum efficiency and provide a safe environment for our Airmen to live and work in."

In addition, pest management conducts routine inspections in an effort to identify and combat issues before they occur.

"We perform many types of inspections throughout the year," Grimes said. "We conduct food facility inspections, invasive weed surveys and even termite inspections. Ultimately, our goal is to make sure we take care of our people."

For more information, or to report a pest or animal problem, call the 28th CES Pest Management office at (605) 385-2521.