Bald eagles are littering Seattle backyards with landfill trash

blad eagle
© Steve Boice

Some 200 bald eagles are scavenging the goods at Cedar Hills Regional Landfill and dumping the leftovers in suburban backyards.

Well this is rich. An army of bald eagles in Seattle, exasperated with humankind's reckless culture of waste and disposability, have decided to fight back. The team of 200 birds have taken to repatriating landfill trash by stealing it from the dump and returning it to the backyards of suburban residences. Given that the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill, located near Renton, receives 2,500 tons of trash a day, the avian vigilantes have plenty of pickings to choose from.

One cheeky bird went so far as to select a biohazard bag containing human blood for delivery to the yard of David Vogel, a man who lives near the dump.

OK – record scratch – thank you for allowing that brief escape into my revenge-of-the-birds reverie. Chances are (see how I'm not really committing?) that the birds are flocking to the buffet of easy food and dropping the leftovers along the way.

“Anybody that lives within close flying distance of the landfill knows that the eagles deposit this stuff everywhere,” Vogel said. “The eagle population has exploded in the last five years, and why? Because they have a free lunch at the dump.”

The Seattle Times reports:

"As the Metropolitan King County Council continues to mull how to best dispose of the 2,500 tons of trash deposited daily at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill near Renton, one thing they’d like to see is a plan to better manage the hundreds of bald eagles that haunt the landfill, feasting on the refuse.

About 200 bald eagles frequent the landfill, perching on trash and diving between bulldozers to pick out choice morsels. There are adult eagles, with their distinctive colors. And there are juveniles, their heads not yet white, with mottled brown and white feathers."

Part of the problem appears to be that there's just too much garbage; the landfill is nearing capacity, but the county’s new "Comprehensive Solid Waste Management Plan" would delay the closing date until 2040 by spending by expanding the site.

Now there has been an amendment added to the plan this will require the county to figure out a “bird management plan.”

“We know that birds – eagles and other ravens, crows, seagulls – get into the garbage dump with great regularity,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, who proposed the amendment. “They’re dropping the garbage all over.”

Those who live near of the landfill are "passionately opposed" to expanding it, reports The Times, noting that the county keeps saying it will close the dump, only to repeatedly push back the date. Along with the garbage eagles, there is the stench and potentially toxic liquids leaching through the oldest parts of the landfill to the aquifer below, among other problems.

I've always said that if we didn't have landfill facilities and didn't ship our preposterous amounts of garbage to developing countries – if we had to live with the garbage we made – we'd make a lot less garbage. Maybe what we need is actually more landfill birds returning our trash to us to remind us of the mess we're making. And in the meantime, I'm going to continue musing that the garbage eagles are one step ahead of me and already on the job.

Bald eagles are littering Seattle backyards with landfill trash
Some 200 bald eagles are scavenging the goods at Cedar Hills Regional Landfill and dumping the leftovers in suburban backyards.

Related Content on Treehugger.com