Mar 2, 2015 7:07 PM by Brian Johnson
Over the last few years, Butte County landfill management has made huge strides to combat a common nuisance, seagulls.
Three years ago, there was a good chance you'd be hit with some seagull droppings if you made a trip to the dump.
But now, thanks to raptors, like hawks and falcons, you don't have to look up, and landfill workers don't have to worry as much about coming in contact with the ugly bacteria seagulls can carry.
"It's a rewarding job, it's an exciting job and it's not something everybody gets a chance to do," said Dave Myers, a falconer who runs the seagull abatement program at the Butte County landfill.
But for Myers, falconry was first a hobby, and then a job.
For five (winter) months, Myers is contracted at the Neal Road facility to do abatement, employing a total of eight falcons and hawks.
In just a short time, his raptors have solved a seemingly unsolvable problem, reducing seagull populations from the tens of thousands, to just sporadic sightings.
Myers said once you let them fly, they create a new raptor territory that seagulls and blackbirds fear.
"So little by little, generation after generation, as the older seagulls pass away, which they have a lifespan anywhere from five to 15 years, that the pattern will change, they won't be bringing the offspring here, and the circle of seagulls will be much less," Myers said.
Myers said it's worked, and it's catching on throughout the state.
Compared to what was used before, like whistles and poppers, landfill management said this is an environmentally-friendly, natural scare tactic.
Plus, Myers' raptors rarely catch a seagull or blackbird.
Myers said the price of raptors can range from $400 to $4,000.
He owns a hawk from the Sonoran Desert, and a falcon from Sudan.