York & North Yorkshire

Birds of prey plan to cut North Yorkshire 'gull-muggings'

Seagull in Whitby Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The council said the birds of prey were "specifically trained not to kill our local gulls"

Hawks will be used to scare away gulls in seaside towns over fears "someone will be killed" in a bird attack.

It is hoped using birds of prey will reduce the number of so-called gull-muggings in North Yorkshire.

Scarborough Borough Council approved the plans at a meeting earlier and will spend £36,500 on its one-year trial of a "disruption and dispersal" programme.

Other measures include removing eggs from nests and erecting no feeding signs.

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Councillor Andrew Jenkinson told a council meeting earlier he hoped the programme would help "win back our streets".

"One day, and I am not saying this lightly, someone will be knocked down and killed," he said.

'Throw rubbish'

Gull-muggings can involve birds swooping down to steal food from people.

In September, a council report said 22 people in Scarborough, Whitby and Filey had been attacked by gulls in the previous six months.

Last year, plans to fine people for feeding gulls were ruled out by the council as "counter-productive".

The new programme would see birds of prey "specifically trained not to kill gulls" and simply frighten them off, the council said.

Councillor William Chatt told the meeting it was important to control the birds' access to waste food.

"The problem I have here is not the animals, the problem I have is people.

"As far as I'm concerned fining people who litter, who throw rubbish on the floor, who are feeding these animals is committing an offence."

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