It’s a bird, it’s a plane……no, it’s an Avian Mitigation Drone! That’s what the new tools being used at Pickles Butte Landfill are being called by Landfill Director Jack Biddle, but the so-called Avian Mitigation Drones (AMDs) aren’t drones at all. Rather, they are remote-controlled eagles that are doing wonders to keep nuisance birds away from the landfill.
“You’d be surprised how well this works,” said Biddle. “The first time we flew one of the eagles, within seconds there was a flock of seagulls scrambling to get away from it.”
The so-called Avian Mitigation Drones are made out of expanded polypropylene, a durable type of foam. Their bodies are approximately 2 ½-feet long with close to a 5-foot wingspan. They were purchased from a company in Taiwan, China to help alleviate the problem of seagulls at Pickles Butte Landfill. The seagulls are considered a biological vector – a carrier that transfers an infective agent from one host to another. When airborne, they bombard employees, equipment and the public with droppings that pose a possible health risk. This makes their control particularly important for the health and safety of both employee’s on site and visiting patrons to the landfill.
The Avian Mitigation Drones are the newest and arguably the most successful technique employed by Pickles Butte Landfill to keep nuisance birds away from the actively used areas of the landfill. However, due to their lightweight, the AMDs are only able to fly in weather conditions with little or no wind. The landfill staff also uses several other types of control measures depending on the atmospheric conditions. Workers employ the AMDs in conjunction with various light and heavy wind raptor imitation kites, firecracker type blanks, whistlers and the application of daily soil cover to help control the seagulls.