Falconer finds mostly positive feedback from the community


- Credit: Archant

Since we started our gull control measures back in February I have been encouraged by the support I have received from members of the public that I talk to when I am patrolling the streets in Seaton, Sidmouth and Exmouth.

From young children who are fascinated by the falcons to older people who tell me that they have seen a huge improvement, it is a real pleasure to receive a positive reaction.

I am often referred to as ‘Jonathan Seagull’ or ‘Joni Falcon’ which I have to say I quite like. However, last week I was upset by one comment from a person who called me a ‘ murderer’.

As a lover of all birds it upset me especially as she didn’t give me the opportunity to enlighten her about the work we are doing.

It is very important to stress that no gulls are harmed in any way by my birds of prey. That is not, and has never been the aim of the exercise. It is not fair to label the gulls as ‘vermin’ or ‘flying rats’. Globally Herring gulls are declining in the wild due to man’s over fishing and loss of habitat again due to mankind’s effect on the planet. It is no wonder that they have chosen to exploit our dirty lifestyles and it is quite admirable that they are smart enough to make a living from our irresponsible disposal of food etc. I think we should look at ourselves first before demonising successful species for taking advantage of our own bad habits.

The main message I continue to push is that we ‘all’ need to do our bit to help make our seaside areas a happier and safer place to visit. I urge people not to feed the gulls and repeatedly ask them to dispose of food waste in the bins that the council have provided. I want to promote a better understanding and respect for our wildlife. We need to show compassion and have a responsibility to manage our beautiful seaside and its creatures through education. We will continue to fly the birds of prey to discourage the gulls from settling and continue to educate and inform the public while entertaining the visitors throughout the summer months. We can be seen in Seaton, Sidmouth and Exmouth on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Jonathan Marshall.