Grimsby school uses hawk to stop seagulls stealing food

Harris hawk on roof Harris hawk Squeaker visits the school once a week to scare away seagulls

A school is using a Harris hawk to try to stop seagulls stealing food from pupils on their lunch break.

The bird of prey, named Squeaker, visits the Tollbar Academy in Grimsby once a week with its handler to try to scare the gulls away.

The scheme started last month after a flock of seagulls began to congregate in the playground during lunchtime.

The school said the hawk did not attack the seagulls and was being used only as a deterrent.

Tollbar Academy's principal Stephen Moon said the school was forced to act because of the large amount of droppings left by the seagulls in the playground.

Pack hunter

Harris hawk
  • Harris hawks are unique among raptors for hunting in family groups, allowing them to capture larger prey than would otherwise be possible
  • These birds of prey are not native to the UK but are kept by falconers for pest control - although occasional escapees are seen
  • In the wild, the Harris hawk is found from the US southwest to Chile and Argentina
  • A Harris hawk used to scare away pigeons at Wimbledon was reported stolen during the 2012 tournament - but later returned

Source: BBC Nature

"There's not much food on the floor," he said.

"But because the seagulls are hungry they want to see if there is anything at all they can have."

"It is the droppings that are the main problem."

Ben, a student at the school, said the seagulls had dropped their mess on him "a couple of times".

"I can tell you it's not a great moment to be honest, especially when all your friends are around," he said.

"It's not safe really either. Have you seen the size of these seagulls?

"They come diving in at head height."

Squeaker's handler Paul Raper said the hawk would perch on the school's roof and fly around the grounds for about 15 minutes to scare off the seagulls.

"The Harris hawk is just putting a predator up in the vicinity," he said.

"So, the seagulls come in and rather than attack the kids they see there is a predator there and go off elsewhere."

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