- The Horn Rapids Landfill in Richland, WA is looking for a way to scare off an estimated 1,000 birds swarming over its site each day.
- Citing the birds as a nuisance and potential carriers of disease, Richland's public waste manager has a new plan. He wants workers to have access to "scare devices" which fire non-lethal projectiles that cause a loud noise.
- Under Richland law it is currently illegal to discharge a firearm of any kind without legal authority. A code change has been proposed to allow landfill workers to use non-lethal devices. The Richland City Council plans to vote on it later this month.
Landfills will be attractive to birds as long as food waste continues to make up a large percentage of the material being disposed. The issue has become so extreme that white storks in Spain and Portugal have begun forgoing their annual southern migration in favor of eating at landfills. In addition to the endless supply of old food, the birds prey on rodents as well.
Bird mitigation is one of the many sanitary challenges that landfills must contend with and something that has vexed operators for years. Some landfills have even had issues with birds getting injured or dying after perching on methane burners. Certain states allow a set number of birds to be killed at landfills each year, but this hasn't proven widely effective.
The Central Landfill in Rhode Island has reportedly tried methods ranging from fireworks to "simulated bird carcasses." Noise devices similar to the approach Richland is taking are also popular. A landfill in Toronto has started using a more natural approach: a trained flock of predatory birds, including a one-year-old bald eagle, now patrols overhead to scare off the local gull population.