• Falcons Become Downtown Building Owners’ Allies in All-Out Gull War

    By Marge Ann Jameson

    Fed up with the ever-increasing numbers of Western gulls nesting on rooftops, stealing garbage, and whitewashing buildings – and people – city officials in Pacific Grove will try another tactic this season. They’re calling in the reserves: Falcons.

    Papier maché owls didn’t even phase the pesky gulls. Nets and spikes on rooflines were only marginally effective. Recorded distress cries broadcast from City Hall seemed only to distress passersby as gulls merely moved to other buildings to spread their foul-smelling feces down walls and windows and on the heads and shoulders of unlucky pedestrians. A campaign to keep garbage containers covered, and litter containers protected by gull-proof lids has shown success, but the gulls still show up every afternoon, perch on parapets and the peaks of roofs, dive-bomb diners and steal sandwiches right out of children’s hands at the middle school.

    It will require a concerted effort on the part of property owners, say city officials, to send the gulls elsewhere. Gulls tend to return to their old haunts when breeding season approaches, refurbishing old nests and using them over and over. The city will, under a Federal Aviation Administration permit, deploy reconnaissance drones to fly over commercial buildings downtown and photograph rooftops to expose the locations of any nests. they say they will not fly over residential areas.

    Property owners will then be contacted and warned to remove the nests before a certain date in late February, or face fines.

    The city can make referrals for contractors willing to climb up on local buildings and take the nests out.

    But after that date in February, it will be too late. Western gulls are protected under the international migratory bird treaty and it will be a serious offense to disturb a nesting gull.

    The next step will be to deploy falcons to scare away the gulls, and to discourage them out of fear from building new nests. West Coast Falconry will release two or three of the raptors, which are trained to go back to their handlers, to make forays over the rooftops. They should frighten the gulls enough that they will leave, but the falconers will return and make a second sweep to make sure the gulls have left.

    For more information on gull control efforts in Pacific Grove, see out “Past Issue” for 8-9-13.

     

    posted to Cedar Street Times on January 21, 2015

    Topics: Front PG News, Green

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