Seagull problem studied

Researchers are looking for new ways to deal with seagulls on local beaches.
Alex Doty
Nov 5, 2012

Findings of a summer-long research project were recently presented during the seventh annual Water Quality Forum at the Ottawa County Fillmore Street Complex.

Elizabeth Wheeler Alm of Central Michigan University was awarded a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year to conduct the study.

“The EPA was specifically looking for gulls at public beaches,” she said. “They funded our proposal to do a gull exclusionary study.”

Researchers focused on four areas along Lake Michigan in Ottawa County: North Beach Park in Ferrysburg, Grand Haven Beach Association in Grand Haven, and Rosy Mound Natural Area and Kirk Park in Grand Haven Township.

“The problem with gulls at beaches is that they can impact the quality of the beach,” Wheeler Alm said. “What we wanted to know was what was the impact of gulls on overall beach quality.”

According to the researchers, seagulls can bring sometimes harmful contaminants to beaches. Wheeler Alm said the gulls' intestinal content can contain E. coli, enterococcus and zoonotic pathogens.

She said they also wanted to see if border collies could be used to deter the presence of gulls.

Researchers began their work in May on the four beaches — two "control" beaches and two "non-control" — to collect a variety of samples. Dogs were present at the non-control beaches, but not at the control beaches.

“We had handlers and dogs out all day,” Wheeler Alm said, noting that the dogs were allowed to chase the gulls away.

The research stopped after 38 days, then picked back up for an additional 38 days.

“In the second part of the study, we moved the dogs to the control beaches and swapped,” Wheeler Alm said.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

Comments

Vladtheimp

Well well, yet another vital use of our federal tax dollars - a federal grant to study seagulls on public beaches, the study being "Gull Exclusion Zones at Public Beaches" for almost $250,000. And what are the big questions asked? "WHAT WAS THE IMPACT OF GULLS ON OVERALL BEACH QUALITY." If asked, I could have answered for nothing - noise, dive bombings, food stealing, and seagull crap. But wait, the study included using Border Collies to scare away the gulls. Did the study ask "WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF BORDER COLLIES ON OVERALL BEACH QUALITY?" Again, I could answer - yapping, confusion, and Collie Crap, plus shovel ready jobs for a few handlers. These EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants totaling nearly $8 million are for projects to combat invasive species in the Great Lakes basin. If gulls are an invasive species, why not adopt the successful, cheap, but controversial solution Grand Haven adopted for deer - a controlled seagull hunt? (Thus providing the impetus for angry letters from gull lovers and an increase in the Tribune's circulation). The little tiny arrows and buckshot would be much safer than the deer hunts. There, I've solved the problem for you. OOPS, scrap that idea - the gulls may be an invasive species according to EPA, but they are a protected species according to the National Fish and Wildlife Service. My bad - go back to the border collies, round the nasty winged buggers up, and give them life without possibility of parole. Folks, you can't make this stuff up - can't wait to see what awaits under Obamacare - what could possibly go wrong with the IRS monitoring your health care and HHS determining what healthcare you can get.

Wingmaster

Yup, here we go again with a simply problem that with government involvement becomes another prime example of tax payers dollars thrown into the abyss. Maybe if we are lucky Vlad, bullets from the North Ottawa Dunes hunt will come whizzing over the dunes after they ricochet of homes and take out a couple of these flying rats.

LessThanAmused

Oh my god, I swear rampant stupidy is the number 1 disease in America today and obviously Western Michigan and Grand Haven are not immune. First there was the great dog poop / boardwalk war of the summer, 2012. Then we had the "teach the deer to stay in the woods and quit eating my flowers or we need to slaughter a herd or two" conflict. Then more recently we had some yahoo who wanted to shut down people who were having an occasional campfire out in their own backyard because he feared for his life and was certain that the amount of smoke generated from a backyard campfire was going to poison the entire neighborhood with it's noxious fumes. Now we have another moronic study, tax payer funded this time to boot, to determine if seagulls have a right to inhabit the beach. Lets start with this nonsensical quote.....“The problem with gulls at beaches is that they can impact the quality of the beach,” Wheeler Alm said. “What we wanted to know was what was the impact of gulls on overall beach quality.” Say What? Has this Alm person ever even been to a beach? My god woman, for the cost of a tank of gas, a daily park pass and a hour's (Qestionable) worth of your time you could have your answer. You want to know why gulls hang out at beaches....look at that pic up above. Hordes of humans, who bring enough food with them to feed a small town for their 3 hour stay and then when they leave, leave their gabage stewn all over the beach. There's your answer. To a seagull at the end of a warm summer day the beach looks like a birdie version of Golden Corral. If you want to do something about the "gull problem" then get to the lowest common denominator and do something about the "human problem". If there wasn't a half ton of garbage for them to consume on a daily basis they wouldn't be there, at least in the numbers that "impact beach quality". Actually you could argue that the gulls are doing us a service by trying to clean up the human mess, but I'm not going to try and get an EPA grant to prove it. I'd love to address the Idiocy of the Border Collie part of this study, but this is already too long and I've got a headache from the insanity. Somebody should tell this woman that there are folks out East who could put to good use the money she's wasting with this load of seagull crap. uuggghhh.

Tri-cities realist

So true, where are seagulls most prevalent? Landfills and beaches. What do they have in common? Garbage.

43°North

ya, if you keep the 'pigs' (tourists who do not use the trash cans which are only every 30 feet) off the beach, the seagulls won't come around. Try to study them this time of year out there. How much money did she get to do this study? Crap, I need to look into this grant stuff!

dyankee

@Wingmaster...that's funny!

Wingmaster

Yeah, thought I would get the jump on that discussion. In about a week, we will see slanted coverage regarding that hunt. Until then ....

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