Controlling Seagulls on Granville Island – The Raptor program

The Seagulls on Granville Island have a well deserved reputation, and it’s not a good one. These sleek, well-fed, handsome creatures have a bounty of delicious shellfish and seafood available to them in the waters off Granville Island, but unfortunately they have become habituated to some of the yummy snacks our visitors dine on, and occasionally share – to the point they help themselves, sometimes quite aggressively…
There is very little they are scared of, and of course, very few humane options so…bring on the raptors! Video courtesy @ North Shore News
Raptors have long been recognized as an efficient and effective method of problem bird control. At airports, many birds pose a bird strike risk, and are necessary to manage. Raptors are also an ideal solution for controlling gulls, pigeons and geese.
At Granville Island, handlers use time honoured falconry techniques to successfully and naturally patrol and manage our “problem” birds with both tethered and untethered birds. While the handlers enjoy being approached by the public, not all the raptors do, but the handlers will educate you to increase your knowledge of these wonderful birds, and will let you know which are more comfortable with closer human contact.
This series of raptors below were taken on a cell phone by one of our staff on a sunny day this winter with Poquito, which means little one (in the raptor world, the males are the small ones of the species). Poquito is a well-trained Harris Hawk, and is well behaved enough to be off his tether. He loved the “bird’s eye” view he got from the top of our holiday star, installed in the Public Market courtyard from late November to early March.
Lou, Lou, seen here on a handler’s hand, is also a regular on Granville Island, and is one of the more friendly raptors, but always ask their handlers if you can approach. Generally the raptors are on the Island weekends in the winter, and through the week in summer, so if you are sitting outside one day and notice how quiet the seagulls are, have a look around as you will probably see a raptor or two, sitting on a handler’s hand, or perched in the centre of all the action.


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