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Bristol City Council

A bird of prey is being released into the skies above Bristol's new £500 million Cabot Circus shopping centre in a bid to stop seagulls nesting on its glass- domed roof.

A bird control expert has been drafted in to deter gulls from spoiling one of the most impressive features of the huge complex, which opens its doors to shoppers in September.

One of the measures used to stop gulls making nests, spreading droppings and damaging the roof involves releasing a specially- trained Harris Hawk into the skies to scare them away.

The hawk is being released once a fortnight to protect the shell- shaped £5m roof- the first of its kind in Europe - which covers the central shopping area.

A special kite, designed to look like a falcon, has also been attached to the roof to frighten off gulls.

The local  Area Manager, says it is important to control gulls often drop stones from air during mating season, which can shatter or chip glass roofs.

He said a pane of glass in one of the office buildings in Bristol city centre was shattered earlier this week after a pebble was dropped from the air by a gull.

John said: "Some of the biggest companies in the South West use the birds of prey method on a regular basis.

"We fly the birds of prey above an area and it becomes somewhere gulls and pigeons do not want to come because they fear there's a hawk or falcon flying about"

He added: " I'm trying to keep them off the dome ahead of the opening because they nest there, there could be problem next year.

John says he releases his hawk, a 12 year old called lady with a wingspan of 120cm, above the city centre buildings for as long as two hours at a time to scare away seagulls.

Bristol City Council has been working to control the seagull population since a survey in 2005 revealed there were 1,933 breeding pairs in the city.

Without controls to halt the populations growth, their numbers rise by 10 percent each year.

To limit the rise, the city council has been removing seagull eggs from nests and replacing them with dummy eggs since 2006 in a 10 year programme.

Vicki O' Loughlin, spokeswoman of Bristol City Council, said: "The reasons we want to control the seagull population are that they can be aggressive during the breeding season, they are noisy and can spread diseases."


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