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Dana Point finds Unique Solutions to Gull Overpopulation & Compromised Water Quality

Dana Point sets the standard for an exceptionally livable city in a vibrant, world-class place. Part of maintaining this lifestyle is working with the County and other local organizations to incorporate programs that improve the quality of life for residents.

Again this summer, the County of Orange, the City of Dana Point, Monarch Beach Resort, and the Monarch Bay HOA have partnered up to use a Harris Hawk to deter the large number of gulls that congregate at the outlet of Salt Creek. This year, the falconer has been using Harry, a male Harris Hawk.

During the last couple of summers, the project has helped to improve the beach water quality by reducing the number of gulls that congregate in the area and foul the water with their droppings. Preliminary DNA testing has indicated a high proportion of bird DNA in the water, which contributes to bacterial content at the outlet of Salt Creek (point zero). Further testing will be conducted as part of the South Orange County Water Quality Improvement Plan (WQIP), and laboratory protocols are being developed and standardized.

City officials have placed a high priority on finding the right balance between deterring the nuisance birds causing water quality impairments, while also protecting the area’s natural resources by implementing a robust plan to ensure that sensitive bird species, including the Western Snowy Plover, are not negatively impacted.

The project started the first week of April and will continue through October. The falconer will be on site five days a week for now, and will decrease his visits throughout the summer, as the efforts become effective at keeping the gull population low.

To learn more about what the City is doing to decrease nuisance gulls, as well as other local programs, follow along on social media at the @cityofdanapoint on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.