Page last updated at 00:13 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 01:13 UK

Hawk to fight against gull menace

The hawk aims to move the seagulls by making weekly visits to the site

Bosses at a factory in Grangemouth have hired the services of a Harris Hawk in a bid to reduce the number of seagulls in the area.

Mason the hawk will begin patrolling the skies above the Whyte and Mackay bottling plant later.

The two-year-old bird is set to make 48 weekly visits to the site over the next year.

The company said increasing numbers of seagulls had been creating a lot of noise and attacking locals in the town.

The flat roof of Whyte & Mackay's bottling plant, which opened in 2006, has reportedly attracted many of the nesting gulls.

Norman Elliot, compliance manager at the bottling plant, compared the actions of the seagulls with a horror film.

'Specially trained'

He said: "Grangemouth is surrounded by docks and you expect to hear seagulls in such areas but it was really starting to get out of control.

"When they started attacking people, it became like a scene out of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds."

Similar schemes have shown that hawks can scare the gulls and dissuade them from nesting in a particular area.

Last week the Scottish Government unveiled a pilot project aimed at destroying gull nests in Dumfries in an effort to stop aggressive birds swooping and striking people.

If successful the project could be extended to other areas with significant seagull problems.

Billy McPherson, Mason's keeper, said seagulls tended to be smart and often learned the habits of visiting hawks.

He added: "Our birds of prey, or raptors as we tend to call them, are specially trained to scare off gulls without causing them or their young any harm.

"Not only do you get rid of the pest, but you do it in an environmentally sound manner."

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