The Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) has sought and received approval from the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) for a one-off trial of raptors to deter Silver Gulls at the MCG during the two AFL preliminary finals this weekend.
The trial will involve the use of two eagles, a natural predator of the gull, perched on top of the roof of the MCG – one each on the northern stand and Great Southern Stand.
The eagles will be in place prior to and during the Collingwood-Hawthorn match on Friday night and the Geelong-West Coast Eagles match on Saturday afternoon. Two DSE officers will be present to monitor the trial.
MCC CEO Stephen Gough said approval was requested this week in response to the increased presence of the gulls at recent AFL matches.
“While the presence of the Silver Gull at the MCG during football matches is not a new problem, we recognise that the number of gulls has become an aesthetic issue for the AFL, patrons and broadcasters,” said Mr Gough.
“We hope that this trial will go some way towards reducing the number of gulls on the MCG playing surface while the game is in progress.”
“We expect that the presence of the eagles will create an atmosphere whereby the gulls think these raptors live at the MCG and will be deterred from returning,” said Mr Gough.
“This method is seen as the most natural, environmentally-friendly and safe way of removing them without harm.”
The use of raptors to scare native birds such as seagulls is not permitted without authorisation from DSE under the Wildlife Act. DSE Senior Compliance Officer Emily Gibson said the department did not issue permits for the use of animals to attack other animals.
“DSE has issued a one-off trial permit for the use of raptors to scare Silver Gulls at the MCG, with strict conditions on use, to protect animal welfare of the raptors and the gulls,” Ms Gibson said. “The eagles will be tethered at all times and are not permitted to fly. It is hoped their presence will act as a deterrent. We will monitor how this trial is conducted to ensure no animals are harmed.”