Saturday 21 October 2017

Use laser guns to deal with aggressive seagulls: senator

Seagulls fight over scraps in Howth, Dublin. There are now calls for lasers to be used against the birds. Photo: PA
Seagulls fight over scraps in Howth, Dublin. There are now calls for lasers to be used against the birds. Photo: PA
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

From water to rent rises, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have clashed on many issues in recent months.

But perhaps a power-sharing deal isn't as far away as you think - as the two parties united and declared war on a common enemy: the seagull population.

In what has become what feels like an annual event, the issue of pesky gulls was raised again in the Seanad yesterday.

Fianna Fáil senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee proposed the use of lasers to tackle what she described as "aggressive seagulls" in North Dublin towns like Balbriggan.

"The lasers are harmless screening devices and are not designed to injure the birds," Ms Clifford-Lee said, adding that the issue has reached "crisis levels".

She claimed that such technology has proven effective in other jurisdictions in order to deter seagulls from nesting in urban areas.

Lorraine Clifford-Lee. Photo: Tom Burke
Lorraine Clifford-Lee. Photo: Tom Burke

Ms Clifford-Lee is one of a number of politicians to raise the issue of seagulls. Her Seanad colleague Ned O'Sullivan previously generated headlines after telling the Upper House that the seagulls have "lost the run of themselves".

But Ms Clifford-Lee, whose electoral base is in Portmarnock and surrounding areas, said she does believe a cull is required.

She said scientists in the UK have examined the use of lasers to tackle the issue and that a similar approach should be considered here. The senator cited the fall in fish supplies as a factor in seagulls nesting in towns rather than cliffs.

"A strategy is needed," Ms Clifford-Lee said.

In response, Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys admits that her department has received reports that seagulls have caused problems in various housing estates in Balbriggan.

"It is claimed that the seagulls, because of their number and habits, are giving rise to public health and safety concerns in the area," the minister said.

Ms Humphreys went on to say that it has been reported some parents do not let their children outdoors during the summer due to reports of attacks.

Schools, businesses and resident associations have also been in touch with the department.

Ms Humphreys said a major review of the 'Wild Bird Declaration' will take place in 2018, which could lead to new measures.

Irish Independent

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