- Title: Staring at seagulls can stop them stealing food, research shows
- Date: 15th August 2019
- Summary: CLACTON-ON-SEA, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (FILE - AUGUST 25, 2016) (REUTERS) SEAGULLS FLYING ABOVE PEOPLE ON BEACH SEAGULL PERCHED BY BEACH
- Embargoed: 29th August 2019 13:07
- Keywords: Seagulls taking food chips University of Exeter study Madeleine Goumas animals nature birds
- Location: ST IVES, PENRYN, LONDON AND CLACTON-ON-SEA, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / GIBRALTAR / THASSOS ISLAND, GREECE
- City: ST IVES, PENRYN, LONDON AND CLACTON-ON-SEA, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM / GIBRALTAR / THASSOS ISLAND, GREECE
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Environment,Nature/Wildlife
- Reuters ID: LVA003ASBXJKL
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Britain's seaside towns are at war with their seagulls, urging visitors not to feed the birds in an effort to stop them snatching titbits like potato chips from tourists' hands.
Warning signs deck promenade railings from Scarborough to Broadstairs and beyond but now research from the University of Exeter has suggested an easy way for holidaymakers to deter the gulls - just stare at them.
The research showed that with a human staring at them, herring gulls took 21 seconds longer to approach a bag of chips then when left apparently unobserved.
"We noticed anecdotally that often when gulls are approaching humans for food, when they are taking food out of people's hands for example, they often come from behind and the person is often totally unwitting to what is about to happen," said lead author Madeleine Goumas, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
The researchers tried to test 74 gulls but most flew away or would not approach. Just 27 approached the food and 19 completed the "looking at" and "looking away" tests.
"We found that overall gulls took longer to approach when I was looking at them," Goumas said.
"Some wouldn't touch the food at all when I was looking at them though all did approach and touch the food when I was looking away, which indicates that some gulls really do seem to find the human gaze unpleasant to say the least." she added.
(Production: George Sargent, Emily Roe)
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None