U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version

September 2004


At the request of the New York City Police Department, the PoIt Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, a team of USDA APHIS Wildlife Services (WS) biologists mobilized in less than 24 hours to assist federal, state and local law enforcement officials in managing birds and rodents impacting the recovey of evidence as a result of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. During the 10-month recovery effort fiom September 2001 to June 2002, more than 1.7 million tons of debris was shipped fiom "Ground Zero" in Manhatran to a high-security crime scene at the Fresh W s Landfill (FKL), Staten Island, New York Close to a billion pieces of debris were sorted by law enforcement officials to recover personal effects, human remains, and other evidence to document the crime and identlfy victims, as part of the largest forensic investigation in U.S. history. Within days of bringing debris to FKL, more than 2,600 gulls were on site, disrupting work of law enforcement officials and creating a concem that evidence would be lost to birds. Historically, FKL has been a feeding and loafmg site for over 100,000 gulls. To address this unprecedented wildlife damage management problem, WS implemented an integrated bud and rodent management program that involved 69 biologists from 23 states. The goal was to reduce the impact of pus, crows, house mice, and Norway rats on law enforcement personnel, equipment, and evidence collection including a zero-tolerance policy for gulls and crows landing on the working face. A combination of population surveys and direct management activities targeting gulls and crows was initiated 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week using visual and noise deterrents including pyrotechnics, mylar tape, human and dead-bud effigies, lasers, paint ball guns, and lethal removal of a limited number of birds. In addition, commensal rodent surveys with snap traps were conducted twice monthly to document population trends and explore the need for rodent control on site. We deployed over 23,000 pyrotechnics and dispased over 172,000 gulls and 5,000 crows fiom the site. We removed 293 house mice and 46 Norway rats in 6,000 trapnights. 'Ibe program was highly effective in preventing gulls and crows from feeding on remains and disrupting workers. We discuss other key lessons learned regarding an emergency response program to manage wildlife.