Hawks return to Worcester early to crack down on Gulls

Hawk perched on roof top

The hawks that were released in Worcester last year to deter gulls from the city centre are returning earlier this year as extra funding has been provided to tackle the issue.

The Harris' hawk will appear around the city from the end of February until May to discourage the birds from nesting when they migrate to the UK for the spring and summer months. The operation will take place in residential areas around the Tything; much of the city centre; the former Royal Worcester estate and an industrial site in Lower Wick.

The programme will be carried out by an experienced hawk flyer who will, when possible, deploy the hawk from accessible rooftops to establish a presence of the hawk where the gulls would usually nest.

The technique was used over the summer months in 2021 and proved to be successful as residents and business owners reported less disturbance from the activity of gulls. Evidence also exists that 'new nesters' were deterred meaning gulls that might otherwise have nested in those locations appeared to nest elsewhere. The technique is a deterrent only and the hawk will not attack or harm the gulls. Natural England encourages deterrent hawking as a form of non-lethal urban gull management. Hawking will take place alongside other measures such as strict control of litter and food waste, steel mesh cages over areas gulls potentially could nest and, when a public health and safety case is made, licensed egg and nest removal.

"Thanks to the success of the programme last summer, we have doubled our budget to crack down on the issue of gulls in the city centre, particularly in areas where residents and businesses are being seriously affected," says Cllr Marc Bayliss, Leader of Worcester City Council.

"We are working hard to implement measures to protect people's health and safety without harming the gulls as Lesser black-backed gull and Herring gulls, the two most common species present in Worcester, are protected by law."

Worcestershire Regulatory Services and Worcester City Council are also experimenting whether an increased human presence at rooftop height will deter the gulls from nesting. A 10-metre tower with a safe, railed platform will be built at an industrial site in Lower Wick. The platform will be used to overlook the nesting areas and establish a daily human presence by site staff. The tower will be used for 12 weeks from 17th February to manage the gull activity in the area. The site has been chosen as it is one of the worst hit areas for gulls with 35-40 nests. Residents in this area are some of the most affected with health and safety issues from the gulls. If the experiment is successful, the technique may be used more widely across the city.

For more information, please visit the Worcestershire Regulatory Services website and social media pages. 

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