New weapon in war on seagulls - lasers

PUBLISHED: 06:10 13 October 2014

Jonathan Marshall from Raptorforce is pictured on the Sidmouth seafront this week with Pearl, a tribrid falcon used to scare seagulls and prevent them from nesting. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 5635-10-14SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.

Jonathan Marshall from Raptorforce is pictured on the Sidmouth seafront this week with Pearl, a tribrid falcon used to scare seagulls and prevent them from nesting. Photo by Simon Horn. Ref shs 5635-10-14SH To order your copy of this photograph go to www.sidmouthherald.co.uk and click on MyPhotos24.

Archant

Lasers could be a new weapon in the arsenal against seagulls in Sidmouth if a falconer returns to tackle the issue next year.

Jonathan Marshall also says he will need a licence to cover him against prosecution if his bird kills one of the protected species if his contract is reviewed.

Crowds gathered throughout the summer to watch his seafront falconry displays and could be in for a light show next year – but residents inland say they have borne the brunt of the seagulls’ dispersal and some do not welcome Mr Marshall’s return.

Addressing Sidmouth Town Council, which financed him, Mr Marshall said: “I’m trying to do a service, educate the public and entertain tourists.

“We’ve got to get the message home – we’re the reason the gulls are here in the first place.”

Civic leaders this year budgeted £4,550 for seagull management in a project replicated in Exmouth and Seaton.

The falconer is now considering using a laser – advertised as a ‘harmless and environmentally-friendly’ way to scare off birds.

He also hopes to get a licence that will cover him from prosecution if one of his hawks or falcons kills a gull.

Mr Marshall fears public opinion will turn against him should that happen, but warned councillors it is only a matter of time before a seagull seriously injures someone - and they will sue if nothing is done.

Residents as far inland as Sidbury have reported nesting seagulls for the first time. Mr Marshall said he cannot accept responsibility for where they go when they leave the seafront – and attempts to disperse them again will see them go ‘from A to B and back to A’.

Not everyone is convinced. Councillor Jack Brokenshire said he thought it was a waste of money to try to get rid of gulls - as areas like Hawaii have tried and failed.

Cllr Simon Pollentine, who owns town centre shop Sweet Temptation, said he has had more problems this year than ever before.

He was convinced that the move could work after hearing that it cost hoteliers a fortune to clean bird mess off their buildings and would like to see figures that show it has made a difference.

What do you think? Is it money well spent? Email sidmouth.letters@archant.co.uk.


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