LYNDHURST, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Birders in New Jersey are finding growing numbers of hawks and other raptors with burned feathers.
It appears the birds are getting singed as they fly over a nearly invisible flame used to burn off methane at the Kingsland Landfill in Lyndhurst.
As CBS2’s Meg Baker reported, the flames can just barely be made out in the sky. Pure methane gas is burned off at the Meadowlands Landfill in the Meadowlands in Lyndhurst.
The burnoff is necessary, but it is unintentionally harming the wildlife.
“And just like, you can’t see it they can’t see it,” said Don Torino, president of the Bergen County Audubon Society.
Birds fly right into the transparent flame and scorch their wings.
CBS2’s Baker went on a birding adventure with the Bergen County Audubon Society, which has spotted rare falcons, osprey, hawks and even snowy owls in the area.
“Right behind us is one of the great wildlife habitats in New jersey for many endangered species,” Torino said. “Unfortunately, we have that methane burner.”
The flame can burn at up to 1,700 degrees.
The injured birds include some threatened species such as the American kestrel, Torino said.
“You have to assume that when something hinders their hunting ability or their migration ability, like injured feathers, they’re not going to survive,” Torino said.
Chris Takacs of the Audubon Society rescued one bird last year. It took a year to rehabilitate and grow its feathers back.
“Very burnt wings, very burnt tail — probably running around on ground for a couple of days,” Tacaks said.
Even if birds survive the first burn, their injuries inhibit them from hunting and migrating, and therefore, they most likely will not make it through the winter.
The landfill is closed and maintained by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, The Record reported.
“We have been in touch with U.S. Fish and Wildlife on a regular basis, and we are going to rely on their expertise for possible interim solutions,” said Brian Ackerback of the authority.
Torino said he’s complained to the authority for several years about the problem.
“We are waiting for U.S. Fish and Wildlife to come up with something — a cap, a guard around the flame so they can’t fly they it,” Torino said.
“We’ve seen three or four birds this season,” Takacs added. “It’s too much.”
The birders said this needs to happen sooner rather than later as we approach the winter.
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