Coastal Hawks scheme scrapped

Reporter:

Rhian Waller

AN unusual scheme using hawks to scare off seagulls has been dumped by two councils that claim it is not working.

The Coastal Hawks Project, which sees bird handlers scare gulls away from tourists on busy days in Rhyl, Llandudno and Colwyn Bay will not used by Denbighshire or Conwy council this year.


Phil Rafferty, a spokesman for Conwy and Denbighshire county councils said neither authority had no funds to pay for the service.


He said: “On that basis, and the fact that it is of little or no deterrent, we have decided not to pursue this further.”


Rhyl town councillor Mike Espley, one of the founders of Coastal Hawks said that the councils had missed the point of the project.


He said: “This is disappointing. They say we don’t deter seagulls from nesting, but that is a long term aim. In the short term, we are there in the realm of public protection. It’s a shame the people in the high office of local authorities can’t understand that.”


The Coastal Hawks project aims to prevent seagull attacks while providing a boost for tourism by bringing birds such as snowy owls, harris hawks and eagle owls to the streets of the North Wales coast.


Cllr Espley said that the intent was not to hurt gulls and that the project would not stop them from nesting straight away, but would force them out of the towns over time.


He said: “This is more than just a seagull deterrent. We also aim to train people up to handle the birds and bring them into long term employment.”


Cllr Espley said that seagull attacks were a continuing problem caused by the availability of food left around by people.


He said: “Only last week we were filming for a news channel and a shop keeper told us about a very serious attack that took place on a young girl. We need to change their behaviour. Culling and egg pricking does not work.”

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