Highlands & Islands

Council should buy robot to scare gulls, says councillor


A councillor has suggested that Highland Council buy a robot to scare away gulls that forced the closure of a sports pitch for nine months last year.

The birds could not be disturbed because they were nesting at the site at Tain in Easter Ross.

Once the gulls had moved on, the mess they left cost £60,000 to clean up.

Councillor Jamie Stone said he was aware of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) developing a bird-scaring robot.

He told BBC Alba the gulls were returning and schoolchildren, and the wider community, were again facing the loss of the pitch for another nine months.

Robotic birds of prey

Mr Stone said: "We need the sports facility and to have it closed for nine months of a whole year is not good enough. This has to be taken seriously.

"We don't have a budget for dealing with seagulls. However, I am aware that UHI is developing a robot that will scare away the gulls."

Mr Stone said the initial cost of buying the robot might be expensive, but once purchased could prove crucial to keeping the pitch open year-round.

Image copyright Robop Limited
Image caption Robotic bird of prey at Lochaber High School

UHI has recently been working with secondary school pupils on a robots project.

Professors at the university have suggested that the council could explore the use of automated broadcast of sounds that scare birds, including the sound of distressed gulls.

Robop Limited, an East Lothian company that makes bird-scaring robotic birds of prey, said it was working with Highland Council on a number of projects.

It said one of its devices was already in use at Lochaber High School in Fort William and also has one installed at Inverness College UHI.

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