The Exeter pub introducing birds of prey to tackle seagull problem

The Imperial has become well known for its inventive ways of keeping seagulls out of its beer garden. Credit: BPM Media

A pub in Exeter has brought in three birds of prey to help deter its seagulls in its beer garden.

It's hoped the new recruits will stop the gulls, which have become a frequent problem ovet the years, from ambushing customers.

The Imperial has become well known for its inventive ways of keeping seagulls out of its beer garden. In 2022, the pub gained national attention for installing shrieking alarms in a bid to keep them away.

The Imperial has become well known for its inventive ways of keeping seagulls out of its beer garden. Credit: BPM Media

However, the seagulls continued to return to the pub garden, because, as experts have suggested, they became used to the sound.

Dr Madeleine Goumas, who was a post-doctoral research associate working on herring gull behaviour at the University of Exeter in 2022, said: "I found there isn't much research on the use of bird of prey calls, which a lot of people seem to use.

"I suspect this is because they are unlikely to work - gulls don't have many predators as adults (only really eagles, which are rare here), and predators don't call when they're hunting.

Persistent seagulls in the garden of The Imperial Credit: BPM Media

"I found that using gull alarm calls is something people have used effectively - alarm calls are the sound gulls make when they see a predator and they function to warn others."The problem with using anything like this to deter animals is that animals habituate - after a while they will get used to the sounds, especially as they will suss out there is no danger present. This is why a combination of deterrents is best, such as visual deterrents or physical disturbance."

The three birds of prey have been spotted by customers perched in the garden this week.