By: ELOISE WALTON
COMPLAINTS FROM residents and tourists about the increasing number of seagulls in Lagos’ historical centre has forced the Câmara to commission a 20,000 euro study to look into how it can control the situation.
The Câmara does not want to kill any birds but is hoping to find a way of reducing the number of birds who are being born each year.
“Seagulls are a symbol of our region and we want that to continue, but it is necessary to control the increase in population,” said Lagos Câmara President Júlio Barroso, adding that many complaints have been made about the situation.
The seagulls also cause upset when scavenging for food and during the mating season, which has led to Lagos Câmara hiring an environmental consultancy company, with experience of working in parks and nature reserves in Portugal, to carry out the study.
Lisbon-based company Strix won the bid to carry out the research, and suggest a plan of action to combat the seagull problem.
Dr Ricardo Tomé, a scientific co-ordinator for Strix who will be working on this project, told The Resident: “Although I am also the President of the Portuguese society for the study of birds, a Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves (SPEA), which is a voluntary post, I am undertaking this project with Lagos Câmara as part of my professional role with Strix.”
The programme to control the seagull population will undergo several phases before any action is proposed to the Câmara.
“This project, which will last around one year, is only just starting,”said Ricardo Tomé. “We are due to have our first meeting with the Câmara within a few days as part of the first phase to evaluate the scale of the problem.”
Scientists will carry out two visits in early June to determine where the seagulls are nesting. This will be followed by visits in July and August to carryout a survey of the increase in bird population as the juveniles start to fly and feed independently.
“In the winter, we will carry out yet another survey because it is a time of year when the seagull population grows in the Algarve due to the migration of birds from colder northern countries such as the UK and France.”
The research will also involve the identification of the factors which attract seagulls to the city, including easy sources of food such as rubbish dumps and the improper disposal of unsold fish and waste from markets.
“After all the research has been carried out and the main problem areas are identified, we will suggest a plan of action towards the end of the year,” said Ricardo Tomé.
“This may include simple measures such as erecting structures to prevent the birds from nesting on buildings or disposing of market waste correctly.”
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