A man in Scotland sickened by the seagull problem plaguing his coastal hometown has developed an innovative way of ousting the birds – showing them the red card.
Ian Watson became frustrated when the “vicious” gulls began to nest in the garden of his seaside home and could find no way of deposing them as they eagerly waited for the leftovers of every family meal.
But the 54-year-old was intrigued when he threw out the remains of his daughter’s bright red Manchester United themed 21st birthday cake – and the hungry birds didn’t touch a scrap.
Mr Watson, of Arbroath, Angus, then tested his theory by offering the gulls two separate trays of food – one red and one black.
While they devoured everything on the black tray, its red counterpart remained untouched. Amazed, the father-of-two decided to take a football-style red card to the town’s seafront – and he was astonished when the mother gull began to chase her young away as he produced it.
Officials at Angus Council were stunned when they heard about Mr Watson’s scheme – and have agreed to meet him today to hold talks about the possibility implementing his strategy on a larger scale.
Mr Watson said: “I really think this could be an important part of the jigsaw if we are looking for a serious deterrent for the seagulls. I was really surprised when they wouldn’t touch my daughter’s birthday cake as they had been eating everything and I thought the cake was particularly tasty.
“But they wouldn’t come near it and even seemed frightened of it. I wasn’t sure why at first, but then I wondered if it might be something to do with its colour.”
Mr Watson will meet the local authority’s director of neighbourhood services Ron Ashton at Arbroath’s seafront to demonstrate his red-card scheme first hand.
He will present a range of ideas to Mr Ashton – such as the use of red bin bags in problem areas – and hopes that his idea could eventually be rolled out across Scotland’s coastline.
Mr Watson said: “The seagulls are a real problem, not just in Arbroath, but all over Scotland. They nest everywhere and can be really vicious.
“They don’t seem to be scared of humans anymore and I’ve heard of them attacking people to try and get food, which is really worrying. I hope that, if Angus Council likes the proposals
“I put forward then other local authorities in Scotland might consider using red-coloured objects to get rid of the seagulls, too. I think they should be watching this with interest.
“I have been down to the seafront at Arbroath many times now to try this out. The seagulls won’t come near anything that is red – even if there is food on offer.
“Of course, some people say it can’t work. One councillor even told me the whole idea was ‘gull pie in the sky’. But he hasn’t seen it in action – and I think if he had he would change his mind.”