Department of Health looks to curb seagull attacks on maintenance crews

Officials at Hawkins House begin tendering process for pest control measures

The Department of Health is to take action to prevent seagull attacks on maintenance staff. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

The Department of Health is to take action to prevent seagull attacks on maintenance staff. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

 

Maintenance crews at the Department of Health in Dublin are having to run the gauntlet of frenzied seagull attacks and managers are now taking action to prevent the building turning into some kind of Hitchcockian nightmare.

It isn’t the first time comparisons have been made between the capital and the fictional town of Capitola, in which the revered horror film director’s 1963 movie The Birds was set.

Speaking last summer, Kerry senator Ned O’Sullivan used the upper house of the Oireachtas as a platform to launch an impassioned diatribe against Dublin’s seagull population who had “lost the run of themselves”.

He listed a litany of transgressions perpetrated by our feathered foes, such as fast-food theft, knicking children’s lollipops, and keeping city centre inhabitants awake at night.

Six months on, a public tender has been issued to install a deterrent system aimed at displacing a growing seagull colony from the top of the Department of Health headquarters at Hawkins House, just behind Burgh Quay.

“The seagull problem here in Hawkins House has become worse over the last number of years,” said a department spokesman.

He said measures imposed by businesses in the surrounding area had turned the building with an avian-esque name into something of a hub for the winged fiends.

“We’re not sure whether it’s due to an increase in the seagull population, or the fact that other businesses in the area have installed pest control measures. If that’s the case then seagulls are seeking out the nearest unprotected areas to nest, and that’s our building,” he added.

Describing the very real plight of maintenance staff at Hawkins House, he said: “Once they’ve nested, access to the roof is limited because of the risk of attacks on maintenance crews who require access on a regular basis. Like any bird, if you start to the disturb them when they nest they’ll attack.”

It will likely be February before any system is installed, as the public tender only concludes at the end of this month. Management wants the issue resolved before the commencement of the nesting season in March.

Deterrent options open to department officials include kites, spikes and noise-emitters but it seems there won’t be any hawks introduced to the environs of Hawkins House.