A Harris hawk is to patrol Stonehaven for the next two weeks in a bid to tackle the seagull problem that has plagued the town.
The Mearns Leader and Kincardineshire Observer has been overwhelmed by the response to the gull problem around Kincardine and Mearns.
Aberdeenshire Council has now extended the scheme run by NBC Bird and Pest Solutions introduced in Peterhead early this month to deter the birds.
Handler Kirsty Imlay will begin a series of patrols with harrier hawk, Sky, in Stonehaven throughout August, returning as required.
Sky arrived on Monday but was unable to fly owing to the severe weather conditions.
This year has been a very successful breeding season for herring and lesser black backed gulls, which are increasingly nesting around Stonehaven.
The hawk will not harm the gulls but its presence will disturb them, a technique used in places such as Aberdeen FC’s Pittodrie Stadium and local schools and council offices.
Aberdeenshire Council is now actively studying options to reduce bird numbers, including nest and egg removal and gull-proofing methods for buildings.
Senior environmental health officer, Jim Logue, said: “The nesting season typically begins in April, and the current issues in some of Aberdeenshire’s coastal communities are caused by young birds hatched this year competing for food with adult birds.
“Gulls can be very aggressive at this time, not only with each other but also towards people.
“In the next few weeks, the problem will reduce as the young birds naturally disperse out to sea and further along the coast.
“In the meantime, it’s hoped the ‘fly and scare’ measures will reduce the risk of attacks on people.
‘‘Anyone in the habit of feeding them intentionally can also help by stopping as it leads the birds to associate people with a source of food.”
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) it is illegal to capture, injure or destroy any wild bird or interfere with its nest or eggs.
However, to protect public health and safety, the Scottish Government can issue licences to control certain species.
Aberdeenshire Council works with local communities, local businesses and building owners and occupiers offering advice and publicising the services of its preferred contractor for seagull control services – Pro-Check Environmental Services.
In order to deter gulls form nesting, Pro-Check can erect anti-nesting devices around chimney heads or, if a nest has already been built, remove nests and eggs from the property.
If the services of Pro-Check are required, they can be contacted directly to arrange an appointment on 0844 800 6484.