In a bid to tackle the persistent seagull issue in their beer garden, The Imperial pub in Exeter, a Wetherspoon establishment, has enlisted the help of three feathered recruits – birds of prey tasked with keeping the gulls at bay.
Frequenters of The Imperial are well-acquainted with the challenges posed by seagulls dive-bombing tables and snatching scraps of food from unsuspecting customers. In an effort to address this longstanding problem, the pub gained national attention in 2022 when it installed shrieking alarms, creating a cacophony to deter the audacious birds.
While the alarms initially proved effective, concerns were raised by a postdoctoral research associate specialising in herring gull behaviour at the University of Exeter. The expert cautioned that over time, seagulls could habituate to the alarm sounds, diminishing their efficacy.
“People have used bird of prey calls, but gulls don’t have many predators as adults,” the researcher remarked. “Predators don’t call when they’re hunting. The issue with using anything like this to deter animals is that animals habituate – after a while, they will get used to the sounds.”
Acknowledging the need for a diversified approach, The Imperial has now introduced three birds of prey into its anti-seagull arsenal. Recent sightings show these avian guardians standing watch in the pub’s garden, a clear signal that the establishment is determined to maintain a seagull-free environment for its patrons.
This is not the first time The Imperial has explored the avian strategy. In 2019, the pub introduced a falcon named Dev to patrol the garden. The move was prompted by a surge in seagull disruptions during customers’ meals, leading Wetherspoon to approve a bird of prey deterrent programme.
The Imperial’s latest initiative aligns with the understanding that combining multiple deterrents is essential for sustained effectiveness. The expert suggested that visual deterrents or physical disturbance, in conjunction with auditory measures, form a more comprehensive strategy to discourage seagull presence.
The three birds of prey, whose species remain undisclosed, have taken their posts in the garden, and patrons have reported a visible decrease in seagull interference. The Imperial’s management seems to be adapting its tactics based on expert advice, underscoring their commitment to ensuring a pleasant experience for customers.
As the avian guardians stand sentinel, it remains to be seen whether this multi-faceted approach will yield lasting results or if seagulls will find ways to adapt once again. The Imperial’s proactive response to an ongoing issue exemplifies a dedication to customer satisfaction and sets a precedent for innovative solutions to challenges faced by public establishments.
In conclusion, as The Imperial continues to evolve its strategies, the deployment of birds of prey represents a promising development in the ongoing battle against seagull disturbances. The efficacy of this approach will be closely observed, emphasising the importance of adaptable measures in addressing the dynamic interactions between humans and wildlife in urban spaces. The Imperial’s commitment to finding effective solutions underscores the broader challenge faced by businesses dealing with urban wildlife, urging a collaborative effort to strike a balance between human activities and the natural world.