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Landfill Operator Renews Efforts to Control Landfill Bird Population

After an aircraft landed, amazingly without loss of life, in the Hudson River last week at least one landfill operator close to a flight path has announced additional bird control measures.

Landfill aims to reduce bird strikes on planes

By Steve Bartlett, St. John’s Telegram, THE CANADIAN PRESS

Last Updated: 22nd January 2009

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The operators of a Newfoundland landfill are launching an assault on the area’s large seagull population to help reduce bird strikes by flights in and out of St. John’s International Airport.

The Robin Hood Bay landfill near St. John’s plans to use noisy pyrotechnics to scare off an estimated 25,000 birds that congregate there during peak seasons.

Jason Sinyard, manager of waste management for the city, said some birds will have to be shot.

“The thing with gulls is they get used to things in a hurry,” he said. “You may have your pyrotechnics … but if you don’t have some lethal means to back that up, the gulls very quickly get used to the scare tactics.”

There is a potential for tragedy when birds hit planes and the possibility, however slight, exists in St. John’s, where bird strikes appear to happen about once a month.

Transport Canada statistics show 17 bird strikes at St. John’s airport in 2007, for a strike rate of 4.28 per 10,000 aircraft movements. That rate ranks the city airport second worst of the top 20 airports in the country, behind only Edmonton.

The airport fulfilled federal requirements and implemented a plan to manage the gulls on its property in December 2006.

An assessment of the surrounding area the following year confirmed the obvious — that the large flock of gulls at Robin Hood Bay is adding to the risk.

The landfill, which is run by the City of St. John’s, serves the greater Avalon and is undergoing a $38.5-million upgrade. The work includes numerous site changes, such as reducing surface garbage, covering waste at day’s end and diverting food from the landfill.

Randy Mahon, operations manager with the St. John’s International Airport Authority, is satisfied with the city’s plan.

He expects it will help lower the frequency of gull strikes.

“We can be effective within our own property, but we need the help of the city and the surrounding municipalities to be really effective,” he said.

Implementation of the Robin Hood Bay strategy is in the early stages. It’s hoped most measures will be in place by the end of the next construction season. More here…

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