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Hawk released over town centre to scare off aggressive seagulls

PUBLISHED: 15:25 02 May 2019

Simon Rouse with the hawk, which has been flying over Lowestoft town centre to warn off seagulls, courtesy of Norfolk Wild Encounters. Pictures: Mick Howes

Simon Rouse with the hawk, which has been flying over Lowestoft town centre to warn off seagulls, courtesy of Norfolk Wild Encounters. Pictures: Mick Howes

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A hawk has taken to the skies over Lowestoft as part of an effort to tackle increasing problems with seagulls in the town.

The hawk, which has been flying over Lowestoft town centre to warn off seagulls. Pictures: Mick HowesThe hawk, which has been flying over Lowestoft town centre to warn off seagulls. Pictures: Mick Howes

The hawk had been set loose over the past couple of months to dissuade the gulls from nesting in the rooftops of town centre buildings during their breeding season.

Lowestoft Vision – the town's business improvement district (BID) – commissioned Norfolk Wild Encounters to provide the intensive period of hawk flying.

Lowestoft Vision chairman Dan Poitras with Simon Rouse and the hawk, which has been flying over Lowestoft town centre to warn off seagulls, courtesy of Norfolk Wild Encounters. Pictures: Mick HowesLowestoft Vision chairman Dan Poitras with Simon Rouse and the hawk, which has been flying over Lowestoft town centre to warn off seagulls, courtesy of Norfolk Wild Encounters. Pictures: Mick Howes

Dan Poitras, chairman of Lowestoft Vision, said: “At the beginning of March we noticed there was quite a few seagulls in the area.

“So we have had a hawk flying across the town centre since March 18 and it is has had a good effect on dispersing the seagulls.

A seagull in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick HowesA seagull in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick Howes

“Since flying the hawk the number of gulls has decreased. They are not as prevalent lately and hopefully we have persuaded a few seagulls to nest elswhere rather than the town centre.”

Initially the hawk was flying three times a day at different points during three days a week.

A seagull in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick HowesA seagull in Lowestoft town centre. Pictures: Mick Howes

With hawk flying seen as the best way of tackling the increasing numbers of seagulls in Lowestoft, by encouraging the gulls to nest away from the town centre, the flying continued until Wednesday this week.

The timeframe was chosen so that they finished before any seagull eggs have hatched – to ensure none of the existing chicks are harmed.

The hawk, which has been flying over Lowestoft town centre to warn off seagulls. Pictures: Mick HowesThe hawk, which has been flying over Lowestoft town centre to warn off seagulls. Pictures: Mick Howes

With Simon, from Norfolk Wild Encounters, walking through the town centre with the hawk and also flying the hawk in the area on a regular basis, the gulls disperse believing there is an “active” predator population.

A Harris hawk and falcon were first flown in Lowestoft town centre in 2017 as part of a programme to boost the town centre's attractiveness to shoppers and visitors.

Simon Rouse with the hawk, which has been flying over Lowestoft town centre to warn off seagulls, courtesy of Norfolk Wild Encounters.Pictures: Mick HowesSimon Rouse with the hawk, which has been flying over Lowestoft town centre to warn off seagulls, courtesy of Norfolk Wild Encounters.Pictures: Mick Howes

It came after Lowestoft Vision received a number of complaints from shoppers about the aggressive gulls, with reports that food items had been snatched.

Mr Poitras said: “It has been picking up again recently, so we have now signed a agreement with Norfolk Wild Encounters that the hawk will fly to deter the seagulls for the next four years.

Simon Rouse with the hawk, which has been flying over Lowestoft town centre to warn off seagulls, courtesy of Norfolk Wild Encounters.. Pictures: Mick HowesSimon Rouse with the hawk, which has been flying over Lowestoft town centre to warn off seagulls, courtesy of Norfolk Wild Encounters.. Pictures: Mick Howes

“Its a long term plan to persuade the seagulls to fly somewhere else.

“We hope they will find somewhere else to nest, but the reduction and the drop in noise levels has been noticeable.”

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