Use of falcons to displace nesting gulls from an urban area: final report

Report following a 10-week trial of falconry flights within Dumfries Town Centre.

Executive Summary

1. A study to determine the effect of a non-hunting falconry programme was implemented over a specified 10-week period from March 16 th 2009 within a designated Campaign Zone covering Dumfries town centre.

2. Falcons were released from different rooftops over a 10-hour period each day. All falcons were flown to lures and were trained not to hunt other species. No other methods were trialed.

3. Gull populations were monitored and behaviour recorded both inside and outside the Campaign Zone.

4. New flying regimes for falcons (from building to building) were developed as part of the study.

5. Disturbance caused by flying the falcons occurred for the first five weeks of the 10-week study after which the gulls showed habituation.

6. Lesser Black-backed Gulls were more profoundly affected than Herring Gulls although none were caught or killed by falcons at any point during the study.

7. The total number of gulls nesting at the end of the campaign had increased in comparison to predicted levels.

8. These increases occurred across both the Campaign and Control Zones suggesting immigration from other locations had occurred.

9. The destruction of a colony located at Cargenbridge, 4km away from the trial site, displaced approximately 50 pairs of gulls and could have accounted for some of the rises observed.

10. Methodological changes to allow the inclusion of other techniques and deployment of regimes earlier in the season are recommended.

11. Research to monitor whether provision of hunting falcons used as part of an integrated strategy could reduce breeding populations is recommended.


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