Whitby fish and chip shop recruits real-life scarecrow to keep gulls away

JP Smith is employed to ward off Whitby's seagulls. Credit: ITV News
  • Video report by Jon Hill

A fish and chip shop has employed a real-life scarecrow to stop seagulls taking customers' food.

JP Smith has become known as the "Whitby Eagle" after he was given the role of protecting diners using Mister Chips, in the Yorkshire seaside town.

Dressed in an inflatable bird of prey costume, JP flaps his wings and squawks to keep the sea birds away.

Alex Boyd, owner of Mister Chips by the beach, believes the strategy is working. He said: "I've noticed when he's out scaring that the seagulls are looking from the rooftops and they won't come down.

"I'm looking at getting some more eagles so we can do this seven days a week.

"It started off just a bit of a joke. The problem is that the seagulls are that clever and that big now that they'll just come down and steal your food.

"They take ice creams out of babies' hands."

It comes after new research assessed seagulls' intelligence and found that the birds take cues from humans and mimic our food choices.

A council in Bath told residents that their "hands were tied" after seagulls were so persistent that a 'gull strategy' panel was hosted.  

As he received praise from passing tourists, JP Smith told ITV News: "They're just a nightmare but I think it's working."

One customer said: "We've come especially today to see him. He's doing a grand job."

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