Use of Raptors to Reduce Scavenging Bird Numbers at Landfill Sites



    Corresponding author
    1. Central Science Laboratory, Sand Hutton, York YO41 1LZ, United Kingdom
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    • Andrew T. (Andy) Baxter is a senior ornithologist working for the Bird Management Unit at the Central Science Laboratory (CSL) in the United Kingdom. He received his Honours degree from De Montfort University in 1993 before working for 3 years as a wildlife ranger on the Farne Islands in Northumberland with the English National Trust. He subsequently developed his research interests with CSL by focusing on reducing the problems associated with birds close to airfields. His recent studies have resulted in the production of national guidelines for deterring scavenging birds from landfill sites, field studies to evaluate the impact of such deterrence on sensitive conservation species, and assessments of how the changing waste-management landscape will affect bird populations and behavior. His work has been recognized in the aviation sector through his election as the vice-chair of the International Bird-Strike Committee Working Group on Bird Behaviour.


    1. Central Science Laboratory, Sand Hutton, York YO41 1LZ, United Kingdom
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    • John R. Allan has been the head of the Bird-Strike Avoidance Team at CSL since 1989. He received his doctorate from the University of Wales, studying the behavioral aspects of shoaling cyprinid fish in 1986 before working at the United Kingdom's most northern bird observatory at Fair Isle, Shetland. He is currently the chairman of the International Bird-Strike Committee and the author of guidelines for best practice bird control at airports. He has produced national guidance material on the management of problems caused by Canada geese and is the principal contracted advisor to the United Kingdom's major airport company on all bird-strike matters.


Scavenging birds at landfill sites carry disease, cause nuisance, and may create a bird-strike hazard. We evaluated the efficacy of trained hybrid falcons (Falco spp.) or hawks (Buteo spp. and Parabuteo spp.) at deterring scavenging gulls and corvids from a series of sites in the United Kingdom. Birds were flown throughout daylight hours, 7 days per week for periods of 7–12 weeks. We conducted our studies in all seasons as gull and corvid populations fluctuated. Although neither raptor group was able to completely eliminate all scavenging birds, bird numbers were reduced more consistently by falcons than by hawks. Based on our research, we recommend that falcons may be more appropriate than hawks for use within integrated bird management strategies to reduce the problems associated with gulls and corvids at landfill sites.