Off Limits

Happy Birthday, DIA!

That same year, it was revealed that de-icer running off the runways had mistakenly been flushed into a nearby creek instead of being held in a retention pond. The chemical fluid had killed all life -- including plants and insects -- along two miles of the creek and also threatened the Barr Lake bird sanctuary downstream.

In June and July of 1998, two DIA-related projects, a parking lot expansion and the construction of part of E-470, had to be delayed for -- that's right -- burrowing owls that had set up housekeeping inside of prairie dog holes in both areas.

In February 1999, after destroying a lawn and eating the insulation off wiring around the facility of AMR Combs, a private airplane and airplane-services company at the south end of the airport, energized rabbits proceeded to move into drainpipes, cars and construction material.

Spit and paper clips: The original baggage system at DIA is now partially operational.
Anthony Camera
Spit and paper clips: The original baggage system at DIA is now partially operational.

In July 1999, DIA officials announced that sparrows were no longer welcome inside the airport, where they'd often been seen swooping through Concourse C, sometimes unloading additional carry-on baggage on people below. Because the number of birds, which had been a problem since the airport opened, was increasing so rapidly, the concourses were baited with seed traps. Once captured, the birds were released outside.

In January of this year, the nibbling rabbits struck again. This time they gnawed through the engine wiring in at least four vehicles parked in one of DIA's lots. Although the vehicles' owners complained, the city denied any damage claims. An airport spokesman pointed out that while the airport does have a pest exterminator, all of the activity around DIA has driven off coyotes, eagles and other predators that usually feed on rabbits.

Happy birthday, DIA.

If you have a tip, call Jonathan Shikes at 303-293-3555, send a fax to 303-296-5416, or e-mail

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