Abatement Programs

Bird Abatement Program

In 2013, OCWR initiated a falconry program for bird abatement as part of an environmental stewardship and protection program. The purpose of the program is to help reduce the number of gulls and other pest birds that forage in the trash at the landfill sites. Birds such as gulls, pigeons and ravens can pick up the trash and bring it where it doesn’t belong like nearby neighborhoods. Trash foraging birds can also act as vectors, spreading trash contaminants to beaches and waterways.

To mitigate this problem, falcons and hawks are used by licensed falconers to keep pest birds out of the trash at the County’s landfills. The falconry program is critical to the environmental health of the area to help prevent the birds from spreading trash and diseases. Prior to the initiation of the program, data collected as early as 1994 through 1996 showed as many as 4,500 gulls observed in a single day. Since then, the presence of gulls and other pest birds has significantly decreased, typically to fewer than 50 per day, and those birds are kept from landing or foraging in the trash.

Falconers are employed year-round at the Prima Deshecha Landfill in San Juan Capistrano due to proximity to the beach. At Olinda Alpha and Frank R. Bowerman Landfills, falconers are present from about October-May each year, coinciding with the gull migration season. 

Weed Abatement Program

In 2011 Alpha Olinda Landfill expanded the active fill area within the landfill boundaries, thus creating new open areas with a need for weed abatement. With 35 acres of open space on a steep wall, it was too dangerous for landfill workers and heavy machinery. As a way for OCWR to continue being environmental stewards, it was determined that goats were the best alternative to chemicals or a burning method.

Each year goats are brought to the landfill to help with weed abatement. In 2020, 300 goats arrived at Olinda Landfill to start work on the now 25 acres of land, which is divided into eight separate sections for the goats to complete one at a time. The number of goats on site each day fluctuates as they work on completing a quadrant, which takes roughly two weeks.

The goats receive excellent care from their keeper who brings them into their covered pen each night. They are provided with water and fed a nutrient based hay to maintain a healthy diet. In addition to the superior care they receive from their keeper, the goats are also protected by their working guard dog, Leroy, a great Pyrenees. Since its inception, the program has been successful and Leroy and the goats have been a great pleasure to have around.