Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Birds of prey battle dump's gulls

Daniel Hedin works his Harris hawk at the Olinda Alpha landfill in California (AP)

The Olinda Alpha landfill in suburban southern California has declared war on nuisance birds.

But rather than use high-tech scarecrows, the massive dump in Brea has hired a falconer to fly his birds of prey to scare away the seagulls.

It's part of an explosion in falconry for profit in recent years, with one-time hobbyists launching their raptors into the skies above vineyards, farms, landfills, shopping complexes and golf courses in the US.

Recent changes in federal guidelines have created a niche industry in the past five years.

Since 2007, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has granted 99 special permits to use captive-bred birds of prey for "bird abatement".

Companies from California to Texas promise a no-kill, natural solution to cities, wineries and landfills harassed by gulls, grackles and starlings.

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