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Results of a Seven Year Effort to Reduce Nesting by Herring and Great Black-Backed Gulls

Chris G. Olijnyk and Kevin M. Brown
Waterbirds: The International Journal of Waterbird Biology
Vol. 22, No. 2 (1999), pp. 285-289
Published by: Waterbird Society
DOI: 10.2307/1522217
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1522217
Page Count: 5
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Results of a Seven Year Effort to Reduce Nesting by Herring and Great Black-Backed Gulls
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Abstract

In 1992, as part of an integrated Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) recovery plan, the U.S. National Park Service initiated a long-term gull control program to reduce nesting by Herring and Great Black-backed gulls (Larus argentatus and L. marinus) at Breezy Point, western Long Island, New York. An estimated 600 pairs of the two species nested in an area of about 50 acres. Gull management included discharging pyrotechnics to harass gulls and keep them off the nesting areas prior to the onset of breeding, and the physical destruction of all gull nests and eggs in the colony. This program was non-lethal to adult gulls. From 1993 to 1996, we found no evidence that discharging pyrotechnics at the colony site prior to egg-laying reduced the daily numbers of loafing gulls. Gulls appeared to habituate to the pyrotechnics and to our activities as the day (morning to evening) and season progressed. The physical destruction of nests and eggs was an effective method to eliminate the production of fledglings and eventually, starting three years after gull management began, reduced the number of nesting attempts 60%, from 742 total clutches in 1994 to 282 in 1998. Destroying gull clutches was an effective (albeit slow) method to control and reduce nesting by Herring and Great Black-backed gulls but, since about 40 percent of the colony remains, nest destruction will need to continue for several more years if the colony is to be eliminated.

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