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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Hawkish solution to gull problem
Seagull
Gulls often nest on flat roofs in seaside towns
A seaside primary school claims it has found a humane solution to a plague of seagulls which have been terrorising pupils.

Pupils at Barassie Primary in Troon, Ayrshire, have been attacked by dive-bombing seagulls which try to grab snacks from children in the playground.

The school has brought in hawks in an effort to chase away the seagulls and prevent them from nesting on the building's flat roof.

The school's head teacher, Shendl Harvey, said that the approach was "not blood-thirsty".


It was really quite scary

Shendl Harvey
Head teacher

Mrs Harvey said that the birds were usually kept tethered by the handler.

"Occasionally they are let off the tether, but only when the children are not around."

Mrs Harvey said that at one time there had been 26 nests on the school's roof.

"They have built nests on staff cars and they have even laid eggs on the playground," she said.

"If we did not take action they would return year after year to the same spot and their numbers will increase."

'Terrible' mess

Mrs Harvey said that the seagulls were swooping down and stealing crisps and sandwiches from the young children.

"It was really quite scary," she said.

"There have been times when staff were attacked by gulls as they crossed the playground from one part of the school to another", she said.

"They also make a terrible mess. I don't know what they eat, but their muck has burnt through the paintwork of several cars."

Long-term solution

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (Scotland) spokesman Andy Miles said that the use of Harris hawks was a "red herring".

Mr Miles said that seagulls can be "quite aggressive" birds, but scaring them away with hawks was not a "long-term solution".

He said the gulls would return as soon as the hawks were removed.

"Gulls are attracted to urban areas by food in the form of rubbish left all over our towns.

"The only long-term solution is to remove the source of the food, and clean up all the rubbish.

"It is an ecological problem and it requires an ecological answer."

See also:

14 Oct 00 | Scotland
Troublesome gulls inquiry call
20 Sep 00 | Scotland
Suburban seagulls lower the tone
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