A Perth restaurant has come up with an innovative way to handle a seagull problem.
Toby Evans, who owns 3Sheets pizzeria, a waterfront restaurant in Hillarys, said seagulls in the area have always been “a bit cheeky”.
“In the past they’ve come up to tables and nicked a few scraps,” Mr Evans told Yahoo7.
“But that’s usually because we haven’t been clearing our tables fast enough.”
Mr Evans opened the restaurant three years ago but said in the past 10 days the seagulls have become bolder and begun to pester customers. He’s not sure why but blamed it on “abnormally” warm weather this autumn.
He tried placing fake owls around the restaurant but they didn’t work. He then came up with an idea.
“I woke up and thought, ‘what if we used water pistols?’” Mr Evans said.
“Seagulls live in the water anyway, it won’t harm them and it’s a humane way to deal with the problem. It’s no worse than them getting splashed with water in the ocean anyway.”
Mr Evans said he initially purchased 20 water pistols and placed them at tables.
He bought 20 more on Thursday after “a few went walkabout”.
“It’s a bit of tongue in cheek fun,” he said.
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“We love animals here and we’re not trying to hurt the birds. The customers have a bit of fun, and just like the novelty. Everyone can defend themselves from seagulls trying to take their food.”
Mr Evans said the method has proved popular with customers.
“They love it and we even put a funny note on tables to warn them about the seagulls,” he said.
“We’re a family restaurant and the whole family have fun with the water pistols.”
The owner added he hasn’t received any complaints about the water pistols, but not everyone agreed with it.
“I say to them, ‘what about all the times you’ve gone for a swim in the ocean?’” Mr Evans said.
“We’re not doing anything to hurt the birds. It’s all about keeping them away from the food in the most humane way possible.”
RSPCA WA CEO David van Ooran said while the RSPCA “appreciated that seagulls can be a concern to restaurant owners and diners” if the restaurant is using “high-powered water pistols” it is “not the answer”.
“It is unlikely to be effective in the long-term and sends the wrong message – that it is acceptable to physically harass animals, which may cause them harm,” he told Yahoo7 in a statement.
“We would urge anyone experiencing persistent issues with seagulls to address the underlying reason that seagulls are attracted to the area, and that is access to food and waste.”
Mr Evans’s approach to his restaurant’s bird problem is similar to how Greek Street Grill on the Gold Coast decided to deal with unwanted ibises.
Theo Kostoglou, who owns Greek Street Grill along the Esplanade, has resorted to hiring professional “bird shoo-ers” and armed a member of staff with a spray bottle of water and vinegar.