A Harris hawk named Murray has been ’employed’ in Bath to help keep urban gulls at bay.
Bath and North East Somerset Council have brought in the five-year-old hawk, which has been bred for pest control, to sweep over roofs where gulls have been spotted.
A council spokesperson said the gulls pose a risk to public health and safety due to aggression or excess faecal coverage.
The spokesperson added: “He [Murray] does not harm the birds but merely scares them away.
“Harris hawks are not native to the UK so the gulls are intimidated by this mystery predator in their midst.”
Murray’s job is to carry out weekly flights over locations where there is evidence of large or increasing numbers of gulls. These include hospitals, industrial estates, town centres and any sites where gulls have become displaced.
NBC Environment, which “provides bird, ecology and wildlife management solutions”, is currently carrying out a three-year contract to tackle the gulls on behalf of Bath and North East Somerset Council.
Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services, said: “Murray and his handlers are carrying out an excellent function in tackling the gull population in Bath and North East Somerset.
“We want to prevent any risk to public health from the gulls, which is why our contractors carried out removal of eggs and nests in the spring.
“At this time of year the gulls are not in their breeding phase so our falconry flights are part of the continued effort to keep numbers down by deterring gulls from settling on roofs.
“A survey we have commissioned tells us that the gull population has decreased in Bath and I would like to reassure residents that we are doing our utmost to continue this trend.”
According to the most recent council survey, the gull population in Bath stands at 835 pairs – a decrease of more than 26% since 2015.
Areas in which gulls are being deterred by the hawk include:
- Combe Down
- Odd Down
- Oldfield Park
- Widcombe and Lyncombe
- The former Welton Bibby factory site in Midsomer Norton
- Some council owned buildings in the city centre of Bath
The roof treatments are part of a series of measures being put in place to tackle the gull problem, supported by Bath and North East Somerset Council.
The council also encourages residents and visitors to keep the streets clear of litter and waste.
More information can be found on Bath and North East Somerset Council’s website.