Sunday 23 October 2016

Drones could carry out gull cull in our cities

Shane O'Riordan

Published 14/08/2015 | 02:30

Seagulls scavaging for food in St Stephen's Green, Dublin

Radical proposals by councillors in Britain to use 'anti-seagull drones' to drive the pest birds from urban areas could be one way of fighting the problem here.

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The measures being considered across the Irish Sea would see drones curb the population of gulls in cities there.

The method, which has been tested in France, involves spraying the birds' nests with a sterilising liquid or oil, which prevents oxygen getting into the eggs and stops them hatching.

It is similar to egg oiling which involves coating the eggs manually but puts the person doing the coating at risk of being pecked by sharp beaks.

"I know they're a big problem in urban areas now, especially Dublin, so we need to address the issue," Senator Ned O'Sullivan has said.

"I suggested egg oiling before to prevent seagulls from becoming a problem but I've never heard of drones doing it."

Meanwhile, the Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN) believes that humans need to increase their understanding of seagulls to prevent violent attacks from the birds in future as a cull would not be the solution.

"Seagulls are making their way not only on to our streets more often these days, but also the news headlines, and sadly not for reasons we'd like them to," said a spokesman for ARAN.

"It's clear some people and businesses are complaining about these cute, protected birds. ARAN feels the solution to anyone with an issue with the birds is to keep food covered but also to keep refuse covered too, and don't feed them.

"We would urge anyone concerned to contact us directly so that we can help provide humane solutions that are out there so that we can all live together without the need for the idea of any lethal killing as put forward by some politicians recently. We feel if anyone needs culling, it's them."

It comes after a man had to receive a tetanus shot after being attacked by a seagull while swimming in Fenit, Co Kerry earlier this month. The man, who is said to have been visiting the area, fought off the wild bird but it returned to attack him again and drew blood from his hand.

Last month, gulls attacked and killed mature ewes in Kerry and in a separate incident, attacked a motorcyclist on the road between Waterville and Cahersiveen.

However, seagulls are a protected species and a cull would be illegal, the National Parks and Wildlife Service said.

Irish Independent

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