Surge in seagull attacks put down to extended hot weather
PUBLISHED: 06:00 20 July 2018
Soaring temperatures in Great Yarmouth have led to a surge in gull attacks in the town centre.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council says it has seen a spike in public complaints about being attacked by the birds in the market place, and has cited an extended hot period as a possible reason.
Meanwhile, market traders say the problem is getting “out of hand” and many people no longer feel safe in the area as birds swoop down in groups, even landing on people’s heads.
It is thought that as a result of the favourable weather this year the number of gulls is higher than usual, meaning there is more competition for food.
The higher numbers of fledglings could also mean the gulls are behaving more protectively, contributing to the increased aggression.
The borough council is responding to the spike in bird ‘muggings’ by using a bird of prey to deter the gulls.
It has given permission for Norfolk Wild Encounters to walk one of their Harris hawks around the market place on a trial basis.
Simon Rouse, founder and owner of Norfolk Wild Encounters, said: “Pest control with a Harris hawk is a good visual deterrent. Wherever I walk around I can see a cloud of seagulls above trying to get away. It can help traders here who I know are losing money because of the gulls.
“Hopefully we can fly them at quieter times in future, which will mean everybody wins, because there will be no seagulls around, people will get to see a display and the birds get some exercise.”
The council launched its Feed the Bins, Not the Birds campaign last summer, which aims to encourage people not to feed the gulls.
Cllr Carl Smith reminded the public that while the ‘walk with a hawk’ could reduce attacks, the only way to reduce overall numbers is to cut off their food supply.
He said: “While the council has no responsibility for the control of gulls, which are legally protected as wild animals, we are responding positively to increased public complaints about gull attacks for food in the market place by trialling the ‘walk with a hawk’.
“Hopefully this will help, but it’s important to recognise that the borough’s overall gull population can only be controlled in the long term if more people dispose of waste responsibly.”