A COASTAL community has declared war on seagulls - by bringing in a hawk to put the aerial scavengers back in their place.

Following claims that Peterhead is being overrun by the birds which swoop down in surprise attacks to get their beaks on people's snacks, Aberdeenshire Council has launched a "fly and scare" campaign, calling in NBC Bird and Pest Solutions to help deter the gulls.

Handler Ian Davidson and his trusty hawk Storm havestarted patrols in the town and will fly his bird to deflect the gulls' attention from people in the street on to the predator in the sky.

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The hawk will not harm the gulls but its presence will disturb them.

This year has been a successful breeding season for Herring and Lesser Black Backed Gulls, which are nesting around Peterhead.

Peterhead Town Centre Project Officer, Heather Barclay, a former countryside ranger, said: "The nesting season typically begins in April, and the current issues in Peterhead are caused by young birds hatched this year competing for food with adult birds. Gulls can be very aggressive at this time, not only with each other but also towards people. In the next few weeks, the problem will reduce as the young birds naturally disperse out to sea.

"In the meantime, it's hoped the 'fly and scare' measures will reduce the risk of attacks on people. Anyone in the habit of feeding them intentionally can also help by stopping."

Recent public consultation on the regeneration of Peterhead town centre identified the nuisance caused by gulls to be a concern for residents.

Aberdeenshire Council is studying options to reduce bird numbers, including nest and egg removal.