Eagle video sparks trespassing at Vancouver Landfill

The City of Vancouver is reminding the public they cannot enter the private industrial site without permission

People have flocked to Vancouver Landfill in search of the perfect bald eagle picture after a video of hundreds of the birds at the site hit social media last week.

While it is a temping photo shoot, the City of Vancouver is reminding people that the landfill is a private full-time operating industrial site, after a significant amount of people showed up and accessed the area without permission.

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A city spokeswoman said members of the public had to be accompanied by a staff member and complete a safety orientation session if they were to be granted permission to the site.

The surge in interest to visit the dump in Delta occurred after a video was posted to YouTube last week, Tuesday Jan. 8, by Vancouver photographer Christian Sasse, highlighting just how many eagles hang around the landfill in search of an easy meal.

Sasse said he filmed the clip while out helping eagle biologist David Hancock count the raptors as part of the Hancock Wildlife Foundation's Bald Eagle Tracking Alliance Project.

He said up to 3000 eagles could be seen at the landfill.

“It’s very common for eagles to go to landfills – you find it in all cities that have them,” Sasse said.

“Eagles are essentially scavengers, they look for the easiest way to find food.”

The city spokeswoman told the Courier that due to staff and operational capacity, the landfill did not offer bird viewing or photography tours.

“Given the nature of the site, including the frequency of heavy mobile equipment and vehicle traffic, landfill gas, and uneven footing, it is not open for public access,” she said.

“All visitors must be accompanied by a staff member for site access beyond the entrance area.

“Personal protective equipment is required if exiting a vehicle, which includes a high-visibility vest, eye protection and steel toe boots.”

She said the exception to these requirements was for customers in residential vehicles that are accessing the Recycling Depot to drop off waste and recyclable materials, and the Composting Facility to purchase compost.

However, Educational tours are made available for school groups and can be requested online by visiting the 'Facility Tours' section of Metro Vancouver's School Programs webpage.

In addition to educational tours the Landfill offers an Open House for a behind the scenes look of the site. The next open house is scheduled for Spring 2020.

Fortunately, you don’t have to wait that long. There are many other spots where you can go to view the majestic birds without having to gain access.

Squamish Estuary

Eagle viewing is at its peak from mid-December to mid-January, and an eagle count is done at the Brackendale location each January. What’s more, Squamish had the world record count of 3,769 eagles in its 1994 bird count.

Harrison Mills

British Columbia is home to the largest bald eagle gathering on the globe. The convocation takes places in November, when thousands of eagles make their way to the place where the Fraser River and Harrison River meet. The majestic raptors migrate great distances to feast on the five species of salmon that are spawning during the fall.

Boundary Bay

Boundary Bay Regional Park attracts thousands of bald eagles annually. What’s more, the park is home to a vast array of migratory birds, so it is the perfect place to go birdwatching. As part of the Pacific Flyway Migration Route, the area is part of an important bird migration through Alaska to Central and South America.

With files from Elana Shepert / Vancouver is Awesome

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