It’s a problem that once reached numbers in the thousands. Seagulls flying over the Lompoc Landfill looking for food.
“We train hawks, falcons to chase the seagulls which is called hazing,” says Craig Golden with the Safari Depredation Company.
He works with Dexter, the hawk, to help reduce the seagull population. Dexter is trained by Golden to get rid of crows, seagulls and ravens.
“They absolutely won’t come back while I’m on the deck with this hawk here,” says Golden about the seagulls keeping their distance.
The hawks pose a threat to the seagulls, so much so that they will sometimes stay away for the entire day.
“It depends on how good the fly is, for example, if they catch a seagull the seagulls will leave for the whole day,” says Golden.
Golden says that while the seagulls are eager and looking for food, they won’t risk getting caught by a hawk and keep their distance.
Hawks like Dexter do much more than chase seagulls away. They help to keep potential health hazards the birds bring to a minimum.
“The falcons will help with public health issues with keeping the seagulls out of the trash and it being carried away,” says Keith Quinlan, Solid Waste Superintendent for the City of Lompoc.
These seagulls can carry trash into other parts of the city creating not only a nuisance but a health risk.
“For example we have a school down the street and you don’t want the birds carrying that,” says Quinlan.
For over 10 years, hawks have been helping to decrease the population of seagulls that continues to come back every year.
Golden says when he first started this program there were about 2,000 seagulls at the landfill.
“The inclement weather will bring them in so if we have really bad weather in August Keith will have seagulls here,” says Golden.
Golden usually brings his hawks to the landfill from October to March. After that time, the seagulls are gone because they move to another location to breed.