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THE CONTROL OF PEST GULLS USING TRAINED BIRDS OF PREY

Today pest Seagulls are widely becoming a real problem in our towns and cities due to the abundance of food and edible waste that we produce. The birds have learned that rubbish bins and refuge tips are basically the bird equivalent to a 'fast food joint'. They have also learned that modern buildings are an ideal place to build nests and roosts in the safety of their urban surroundings. As well as the considerable risk of spreading dangerous bacteria such as Escherichia coli ( E. coli ) and Clostridium botulinum ( botulism ), the birds themselves are becoming increasingly aggressive and dangerous as they will often steal food from the public.

 

There have been many different attempts at dealing with these nuisance birds including loud sirens, flares, playing recordings of their distress call and placing netting and spikes over the birds nest sights. These methods only prove marginally successful for short periods and the gulls soon realise that they are in no real danger.

 

There is however another approach. The use of trained falcons and Hawks has proved to be the best method of consistently keeping gull colonies under control. The larger falcons ( Peregrine, Saker, Gyr and hybrids) and larger Hawks ( Harris Hawks, Goshawks) are the most effective as they naturally prey on gulls in the wild. The very sight of any of these species will literally spread panic among the nesting birds and cause them to flee immediately. A consistent presence of these raptors in the gulls intended nesting colony will persuade the birds that they have will not be able to raise their chicks successfully and hence move them on. Although the trained raptors will kill the occasional gull, the idea is not to kill all of the them but to scare them away. This is not only very effective but is also eco friendly, noise pollution free and a natural way of controlling gulls.

 

I have gained much experience in this form of bird control over many years as a professional falconer both as a civilian and as a recruit in the Royal Air Force. I have successfully provided a bird control service for Esso, Shell, The R.A.F, Leaderflush Shapland, Marsh Barton Industrial Estate and North Devon Distict Council.

 

I advise that any problem birds need to be consistently exposed to trained raptors from the beginning of March until the end of August. This period is when they are looking to breed and rear young. As well as creating the problems listed above they also at this time cause structural damage to properties and leave huge amounts of bird droppings which is both foul smelling and unsightly.

 

A minimum of 2 visits per week by a falconer and his trained raptors to buildings which are potential nest sights will be enough to dissuade the gulls from settling and will move them on to another area.

Jonathan Marshall

 

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