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Residents red-faced over Portimão’s seagull “invasion”

It is an issue many have complained about for years, but apparently is getting worse.

The increase of Portimão’s seagull population is worrying residents, who complain about how “noisy” the birds can be, and how “dirty” they leave the areas where they live. Others say they are nesting in their balconies, and can “become aggressive”.

Locals are now calling on authorities for action to control the bird’s population.

Lourdes Santos, who has lived in Portimão for 50 years, wrote a letter to the council asking for the “seagulls to be returned to the sea, where they belong, because they have invaded the town and its outskirts in recent years”.

According to Lusa news agency, the council’s urban environment division responded saying “there have never been attempts to control the seagull population”, which could only be done through an initiative approved by the Institute of Nature and Forest Conservation (ICNF).

The council adds it has contacted ICNF for advice.

Santos said she remembers seeing many seagulls in the riverside area, but now, even far away from the river, “they start squawking at night and will not shut up during the day”. She added they also have a knack for ‘leaving their mark’ on cars and rooftops.

Another resident João Silva said that seagulls have set up a nest on his balcony and do not let him get close, as they “become aggressive when they are protecting their offspring”.

Bird specialist Domingos Leitão believes the seagull ‘invasion’ is explained by the birds seeking food in places like “landfills”, or seeking fishermen’s leftovers.

He added that seagulls are “opportunists” and have the ability to “adapt and learn how to use the several food sources that society gives them”.

The specialist also warned people not to feed wild animals such as seagulls, as it only encourages the birds to remain in town. He also says people should be careful to keep rubbish bins closed.

André Dias, a Portimão biologist, called for a study to monitor why the birds are moving ashore.

Putting the matter into a different perspective, Dias said there are some “advantages” of having more seagulls in town, as they eat unwanted critters such as rats and cockroaches.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com