With raptors now patrolling skies over Ocean City, mayor says they’re keeping seagulls away

An Eurasian eagle-owl is one of the raptors working in Ocean City to keep seagulls away. (Image: http://carolinabirds.org/) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17039928)

An Eurasian eagle-owl is one of the raptors working in Ocean City to keep seagulls away. (Image: http://carolinabirds.org/) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17039928)

Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian lambasted the seagulls in his community in July, saying that they’ve become “very aggressive.”

Residents and visitors also decried swooping thefts of pizza, hoagies, and a variety of boardwalk treats.

But a month later, with falcons, hawks, and owls now patrolling the skies above the beach and boardwalk since early August, the birds of prey are “holding the gulls at bay,” Gillian said.

“People say they are grateful to be able stroll the boardwalk and beach across the entire island without fear of gulls swooping down to steal food,” the mayor said.

At a cost of $2,100 a day, East Coast Falcons deploys raptors over the beach and boardwalk from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. to “move the gulls away from these areas without harming them,” Gillian said last month.


With the raptors flying overhead, Gillian said the seagulls will “know instinctively to leave an unsafe place.”

“Professional falconry-based bird abatement is a humane, effective solution for removing nuisance birds. The contractor is licensed to conduct the work, and the effort is approved by the Humane Society of Ocean City, which oversees animal control for the town,” he added.

Gillian said that the city will monitor the program through Labor Day weekend.

“If it continues to be successful, we will bring it back for next summer,” he said. “Any investment that can protect the quality of life for our residents and guests is worthwhile.”

The public can meet the raptors and trainers outside the Ocean City Music Pier each late afternoon and early evening.

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