The eagles are coming (for your trash)! If you’re a resident of one Seattle suburb, that is.
The good people of Renton, Washington are under aerial assault from 200 bald eagles that inhabit a local landfill, consuming old food and routinely dropping garbage on nearby homes.
“Anybody that lives within close flying distance of the landfill knows that the eagles deposit this stuff everywhere,” resident David Vogel said during a community meeting last month, as reported by the Seattle Times.
Vogel, according to the New York Times, once found a container of human blood in his yard, and speculated that “the eagle population has exploded in the last five years…because they have a free lunch at the dump.”
The trash-bombing birds set up shop at Cedar Hills Regional Landfill, which receives 2,500 tons of waste a day. The dump is nearly at capacity, forcing King County leaders to consider fixes such as incinerating or rerouting the garbage.
But until then, the 920 acre-large landfill—equal in size to 700 football fields—will remain a veritable buffet for hungry eagles unless something is done.
The county is planning to create a “bird management plan” that censuses the species living at the landfill, reported the Seattle Times. It will also propose methods for controlling the avian populations, such as scaring them off with loud noises, according to a recently passed amendment to a solid waste management plan.
“We know that birds—eagles and other ravens, crows, seagulls—get into the garbage dump with great regularity,” Councilor Reagan Dunn, who proposed the amendment, said at the community meeting. “They’re dropping the garbage all over.”
Despite their hallowed splendor, bald eagles aren’t above a quick and dirty meal. In the Aleutian Islands town of Unalaska, so many eagles have seized upon its fishing industry waste it’s since become the nation’s “eagle attack capital,” wrote the New York Times; an estimated six to ten people are treated for talon gashes and other eagle-related injuries per year.
Their taste for human detritus is a uniquely modern problem, however. Waste can choke, poison, or otherwise harm eagles. “Natural foods are much better nutritionally for the eagles,” the US Fish and Wildlife Service told Alaskan communities in 2000. “Please help by not feeding the eagles.”
The Seattle town has yet to decide on an eagle deterrent. Bald eagles are federally protected, having once toed the line of extinction due to hunting, pesticide use, and habitat loss. Today, their numbers have rebounded to about 10,000 individuals, according to federal data.
Many Renton residents are also opposed to any measure that would expand the landfill and are pushing for its closure, according to the Seattle Times.
Benjamin Franklin, noted bad opinion-haver, once called the bald eagle “a bird of bad moral character” that “does not get his living honestly.” I can think of no better symbol for America than a trash-loving predator that ceaselessly terrorizes its neighbors.