Hawks rescue funerals from gulls

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Hawks have come to the rescue of mourners at a crematorium plagued by aggressive seagulls.

The birds of prey were used to scare away gulls at Eastbourne crematorium after complaints that mourners were being dive-bombed as they left the chapel.

Councillor Margaret Bannister, portfolio holder for bereavement services at Eastbourne Borough Council, said: “Staff at the crematorium were becoming aware of the problems that the seagulls were causing to people attending services or visiting the grounds.

“It was felt that we had to call in bird control experts as the last thing crematorium visitors want is to have to worry about being attacked by seagulls.

“The hawk solution has proved very effective, with the benefit that it does not harm the gulls. We believe that by calling in professional experts we have helped to alleviate the problem.”

Around eight breeding pairs of seagulls had made their home at the site. The birds usually nest between March and September and become particularly aggressive during this period.

Paul Bates, managing director of Cleankill Environmental Services, said: “The crematorium complex has a flat roof which provides an ideal nesting site. We decided it would be best to try to reduce the population over a period of time and start a programme of removing nests and the eggs.

“Alongside this work, we bring in our hawks once a week early on a Thursday morning before the funerals start. The hawks fly at the seagulls and scatter them which makes them uncomfortable. Eventually they decide to find another nesting site.”