OSTEND, Belgium—This North Sea resort welcomes millions of visitors a year to its wide sandy beaches and seafood restaurants. But as peak season ends, mayors along the coast are planning crisis talks to tackle a scourge that nearly spoiled the summer of 2012: marauding seagulls.
In a real-life Hitchcock remake, the birds have been snatching food from tourists, attacking people, spreading garbage, and sowing conflict among business owners, scientists and local officials over who is responsible.
Some say European Union regulations need to change; others say property development along the coast is responsible for a problem that didn't explode until recently.
The lesser black-backed gull and the herring gull are protected species in the EU. There are 6,500 breeding pairs in the whole of Flanders, according to Eric Stienen, an expert in colony birds at the Flemish Institute for Nature and Forests. Around 6,000 breed and live on the harbor in Zeebrugge, a container port where they first settled in the 1980s and have remained relatively undisturbed by humans and predators. Most others are concentrated west of the port, in Ostend, he said.
As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.