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Pest management keeps Travis mission ready

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David De Alva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management technician, sets down a trap to catch vermin Nov. 8, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. De Alva places traps around Travis to capture unwelcome critters roaming the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Otte)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David De Alva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management technician, sets down a trap to catch vermin Nov. 8, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. De Alva places traps around Travis to capture unwelcome critters roaming the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Otte)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David De Alva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management technician, checks traps to see if there is any evidence of bats crawling through the pipes Nov. 8, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. De Alva is trying to rid a building of bats by waiting for them to leave and blocking all entrances before they return. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Otte)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David De Alva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management technician, checks traps to see if there is any evidence of bats crawling through the pipes Nov. 8, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. De Alva is trying to rid a building of bats by waiting for them to leave and blocking all entrances before they return. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Otte)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David De Alva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management technician, puts on his gas mask to check if the filters are working properly Nov. 8, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. De Alva uses the mask for fumigating jobs and spraying down Travis aircraft after they’ve returned from missions around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Otte)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David De Alva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management technician, puts on his gas mask to check if the filters are working properly Nov. 8, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. De Alva uses the mask for fumigating jobs and spraying down Travis aircraft after they’ve returned from missions around the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Otte)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David De Alva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management technician, sprays hornet’s nests with insecticide Nov. 8, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. During dryer seasons, hornets will burrow in squirrel holes and De Alva sprays their homes so the pests won’t bother Travis residents. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Otte)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David De Alva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management technician, sprays hornet’s nests with insecticide Nov. 8, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. During dryer seasons, hornets will burrow in squirrel holes and De Alva sprays their homes so the pests won’t bother Travis residents. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Otte)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David De Alva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management technician, places an opossum into the bed of his truck Nov. 8, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. Pest management released the opossum several miles away from the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Otte)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David De Alva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management technician, places an opossum into the bed of his truck Nov. 8, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. Pest management released the opossum several miles away from the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cameron Otte)

Once called upon, he springs into action. Pulling up his Tyvek protective coveralls, donning his gloves, tying his boots, and checking his gas mask filters, Senior Airman David De Alva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron pest management technician, is ready to rid a building from infestation.

“Travis is like anywhere else it’s not just a base it’s a community with buildings, homes and people,” said Fink. “Food and shelter tend to attract wildlife and we are here to keep them on the outside.”

De Alva removes and eliminates pests around base.

“Our mission here on Travis Air Force Base entails removing, killing and clearing out pests from locations customers have requested pest assistance for,” De Alva said. “We set up traps and/or poison to remove the critters from the buildings so Airmen can get their mission done and be comfortable while doing it.”

The Pest Management Office prides itself on looking into more permanent solutions for ridding the base of pests.

“Our office works a little different from off-base contractors; we look into long-term solutions with pests,” said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Fink, 60th CES noncommissioned officer in charge of pest management. “Rather than clean up the problem and leave, we set up precautions to keep the insects and vermin away even after we leave.”

The Pest Management Office may rid the base of bugs, but there’s a lot more than just insects that find their way onto the installation.

“We handle anything from ants to coyotes. If they are on Travis, we will get rid of them,” De Alva said. “For most of the bigger animals like cats or raccoons, we will usually catch them and try to find a shelter or release them, far enough from Travis so they won’t return.”

Not only does the Pest Management Office effect other offices on base, they also enable the flying squadrons to rapidly project American power.

“When aircraft visit certain locations, there is a risk of bringing back foreign insects or animals with them,” said De Alva. “This could lead to the spread of disease or sickness to an area where the local population may not have a built immunity, which could start an epidemic. We spray down aircraft with an aircraft spray to kill and repel insects, so we can complete the mission without risking the health of the public.”

Without the Pest Management Office the mission at Travis could be negatively impacted.

“There would be frequent infestations of various insects, rodents, and in some cases, larger creatures would roam the base unhindered,” Fink said.

“Eventually Airmen would struggle to do their jobs because they would be too busy trying to kill insects and vermin themselves and wouldn’t be able to focus on their tasks,” said Fink. “We are here to provide a high standard of life, pest free.”

Knowing how important pest management is to the largest mobility wing in the Air Force fills De Alva with a sense of purpose.

“It feels pretty awesome knowing that what I’m doing with my life has relevance to others and is making an impact to the Air Force’s mission,” De Alva said.

A team of five Airmen perform the pest management mission and often go unnoticed, which is a good thing, said Fink

“Generally people aren’t aware Travis even has a Pest Management Office and that’s good because if you are seeking us out, it’s probably because you have a pest problem,” Fink said. “During a duty day, we would all rather focus on getting our work done rather than avoiding or hunting insects in the office and that’s why we are here. Whenever you find yourself being bothered or your work being hindered by pest give us a call and we will take care of it.”

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