Service special agent reduces injuries to hawks at Mass. landfills

A simple solution prevents hawks from being injured on the smokestacks that flare methane at landfills.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region

When hawks fly across landfills, they find smokestacks perfect for perching and eyeing prey scavenging waste.

But those smokestacks aren’t so perfect. They ignite, rushing flames upward in speeds the hawks can’t beat, scorching or even killing the birds. Injured birds become prime targets for coyotes and other predators.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special agent James Dowd has taken a creative route to handle these injuries to hawks at Massachusetts landfills.

In 2011, he got a call from a raptor rehabilitator – an injured female juvenile red-tailed hawk had been found around Taunton Sanitary Landfill.

“The rehabilitator, Marla Isaac, described the hawk’s injuries as burns to the wing and tail feathers,” Dowd says. “She explained that this injury is consistent with having been burned by a methane gas flare stack.”

These stacks burn methane gas, which is produced by landfills for energy and burned to destroy dangerous pollutants…

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