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Williston residents make noise over plan to scare off nuisance seagulls

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 6:26 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 28, 2021 at 6:00 AM EDT
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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Birds in Williston are ruffling some feathers. The Burlington International Airport and Casella Waste Management need the seagulls gone, but some residents aren’t keen on the current idea of how to get rid of them.

Seagulls love food scraps, and the Williston Casella Waste Management facility has plenty of them. But the love isn’t requited. In fact, the birds are a hazard.

“I think we’ve all seen terrible accidents around the country and that’s exactly what we’re trying to prevent here,” said Nic Longo, the deputy director of aviation at the Burlington International Airport.

Bird strikes are some of the most frequent causes of wildlife accidents at airports. So the businesses need them gone, but residents aren’t keen on their current idea on how to get rid of them.

“Concerned about the noise,” Kara von Behren said. “It’s supposed to be set off at kind of unpredictable intervals.”

Behren is talking about a “bird banger.” It’s a pyrotechnic device, like a firework, that Casella and the Burlington airport are looking into to get rid of seagulls.

Behren is concerned the loud noises will disturb the kids at the Williston Enrichment Center where she is the director.

“Can often trigger some responses in children that can cause some pretty sad children, and some dysregulation,” Behron said. “That’s nothing that we want our kids exposed to.”

Especially since the kids are spending most of their time outside due to COVID.

“This is a Federal Aviation Administration program, so we’re constantly monitoring all types of animals, bird activity and wildlife habitation,” Longo said.

The proposed plan is that the bird bangers will go off at least 20 times a day for two months from April to May when seagulls are the most prevalent in the area.

Both Casella and the airport say finding a way to get rid of the birds is a must.

“They make it difficult for us to do our jobs,” said Joseph Fusco, the vice president of Casella.

Longo says Casella and the airport have worked to mitigate the seagull problem together for years, but it’s a challenge because the birds are quick to catch on.

“Seagulls can be really smart,” Longo said.

“We’re in that process of finding a solution that is both most effective and is respectful of the area around the facility,” Fusco said.

The town of Williston has to discuss how the bird banger would impact their noise ordinance, and both companies want the community to be comfortable with how they get rid of the birds.

A meeting to discuss the issue will take place Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. both in-person and online.

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