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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Managing Gulls to Reduce Fecal Coliform Bacteria in a Municipal Drinking Water Source


Large numbers of ring-billed gulls, herring gulls, and greater black-backed gulls roost each night on a municipal drinking water source in Maine and have been identified as the primary source of elevated fecal coliform bacteria levels. The lake has a resident gull population of approximately 800, while more than 3,000 gulls have been observed during seasonal migration. To alleviate this public health concern, the U.S. Department of Agriculture APHIS Wildlife Services program implemented an Integrated Wildlife Damage Management program in 2005. The program included the use of pyrotechnics and watercraft to harass gulls, as well as shooting to reinforce and enhance the effectiveness of non-lethal methods. Management activities were effective in keeping gulls off the drinking water source and lowering coliform bacteria levels to within EPA water quality standards. Additionally, the integrated program also involves an ongoing survey in areas surrounding the lake to identify feeding, loafing, and roosting areas that may affect gull movement. Information collected from the survey will result in more effective management practices and contribute to the long-term goal of reducing gull use on the lake.

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