KEARNY — In trying to ease one problem, a recent change at a landfill in Hudson County has sparked a new hazard for birds flying overhead.

At least two red-tailed hawks recently were seriously injured by a gas flare installed at the Keegan Landfill, according to Bergen County Audubon Society president, Don Torino.

"This is one of the longest imaginable rehab processes. Birds can, and do, regenerate feathers, but this much damage might take two full years to recover from, and even then might not be successful," according to Chris Soucy, executive director of The Raptor Trust.

The Morris County bird rehabilitation and education center is caring for both red-tailed hawks that were burned.

The landfill, run by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, recently was ordered permanently closed by a Superior Court judge after the town complained about recent odors. The ruling finalizes a preliminary injunction that the court previously issued in May.

The flare is part of a gas collection system operating since Sept. 5, according to an update on the NJSEA website, to reduce fumes at the facility amid public complaints.

One of two red-tailed hawk burned by a landfill flare in Kearny (courtesy The Raptor Trust)

Torino said he was called by the NJSEA to a meeting after the first bird was burned last month and was told they were working to resolve the issue.

A second bird was injured the same way on Oct. 7, as reported by

“This type of skid-mounted flare is only used at the start of operations. Subject to permitting requirements, this flare will be replaced by a fully enclosed flare, which will be installed as a permanent part of the system and will not have an exposed flame,” according to a written statement from NJSEA to New Jersey 101.5 News.

The authority also plans to install “deterrents to limit the availability of perching stations near the flare and clearing vegetation to reduce the nearby habitat of prey animals that are hunted by these raptors.”

An NJSEA spokesman said the authority will be installing deterrents to limit the availability of perching stations near the flare and clearing vegetation to reduce the nearby habitat of prey animals that are hunted by these raptors.

“We just can’t let these birds keep getting torched — and these are the ones we know about,” Torino said to New Jersey 101.5 News.

Similar injuries were seen with birds in 2016 and 2017 burned by a gas flare at the Kingsland Landfill, which is located in both North Arlington and Lyndhurst. That landfill has been closed since 1988, and was remediated in the 1990s, according to the Meadowlands Environmental Research Institute.

As reported then by NJTV News, the birds injured by that flare were often kestrels, a species considered threatened in New Jersey.

After those incidents, the facility eventually installed a cage-like structure to prevent birds from flying too close, Torino said.

The Keegan Landfill gas collection and control system, installed under the oversight of the state DEP, "has been working as anticipated," according to the same NJSEA statement, which said hydrogen sulfide fumes from the landfill have been significantly reduced.

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