Palos Verdes Resort Uses Falconry to Combat Seagull Population

The Terranea Resort on the Palos Verdes Peninsula had a seagull problem. Now, they have a falcon

The Terranea Resort on the Palos Verdes Peninsula had a seagull problem that was solved by turning to some of nature's most intimidating "bouncers."

Joe Roy III and his birds of prey specialize in getting rid of the large seagull populations using non-lethal methods.

He flies his birds, including an 18-year-old hawk, around the resort just as the sun comes up as a part of his typical day. This keeps the gull population away, intimidated by the fearsome bird of prey.

He describes his birds as the bouncers of the resort, making sure the gulls recognize that the area as unfriendly and dangerous.

Roy has been practicing falconry since he was 9 years old.

"Falconry is an art form. I don't know anything about zen, but it's a self-perfecting art," he said.

The falconry program began in May 2009 as part of Terranea's Adventure Concierge service to get guests more comfortable with the surrounding area.

"They love it, most of the people that arrive are familiar with the falconry program. Typically, they're quite excited, and once in a while they get nervous," Roy said. "They want to see the birds and take photos and videos."

He added that the people who were most supportive of the falconry program were people who came from areas with a lot of seagulls. 

He uses a Eurasian eagle owl to educate guests on the general identification of birds, their role in the environment and how they feed and fly. 

"These birds of prey are more akin to cats than dogs. We don't train them like we train dogs," he said about the birds' personalities.

Even so, Roy added that there is also emotions involved with the birds.

"If we imprint on them there's an emotional bond to be had, but if they're older it's more of a work relationship," he said.

His 18-year-old peregrine hawk he raised since she was an infant, and said that the bird saw him as her mother and then later as a mate. 

In short, a friend. 

"If your heart doesn't beat faster when you see a hawk or falcon take off, you're dead," he said. 

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