Toronto

Birds of prey chase away garbage-eating seagulls from Toronto landfills

Birds of prey protect Toronto landfills from seagulls, which are a problem for landfills because they harm themselves and the environment by eating garbage.

Seagulls can harm themselves and the environment by eating from landfills

Bald eagles aren't just an iconic national symbol south of the border — here in Toronto, they're the noble and brave protectors of garbage dumps. 1:16

Bald eagles aren't just an iconic national symbol south of the border  here in Toronto, they're the noble and brave protectors of garbage dumps.

Local landfills are plagued by garbage-eating seagulls. They harm themselves by eating unnatural food sources and can harm the environment by carrying trash outside the landfill.

The city's eco-friendly solution to that problem? Massive birds of prey that swoop in and scare the seagulls away. 

"We train these raptors to chase the gulls away," said Stephen Bucciarelli, president of Predator Bird Services Inc. "It's essentially their job to do it. But to them it's not going to work, they just have fun all day flying around."

This one-year-old bald eagle is just one of the predatory birds that scares seagulls away from Toronto landfills. It's still young and will grow to have a white feathered head as it becomes mature. (CBC News)

Falconry is a practice that dates back thousands of years. The predatory birds, including hawks and falcons, were trained to catch prey as food for humans before guns became a common tool in hunting. 

Within the last 40 years, companies like Bucciarelli's have used falconry as a form of bird control. 

"We've learned how to manage these birds so they are really comfortable at work and effective at it," he said. 

A one-year-old bald eagle is one of the predators that soars across Toronto landfills. 

Stephen Bucciarelli is president of Predator Bird Services Inc. The company trains birds of prey to scare away other, smaller birds. (CBC)

"He's just learning the ropes of flying in the wind and he's doing really well," Bucciarelli said, adding that the eagle and its winged colleagues are so effective at their job that gulls don't even frequent the landfills anymore — they've learned to stay far away. 

It's a win-win because the seagulls don't know what's good for them, he said.

"It's not good for birds to eat unnatural food sources, so if we're scaring them...they're going to be eating from natural sources like fish rather than things leftover from humans," Bucciarelli said. 

Seagulls that are harming the environment and themselves by eating unnatural food sources at landfills better watch out. This bald eagle is serious about protecting city territory. (CBC News)

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