Devon Jones / Edge Columnist

Hundreds of rare New Zealand seagulls take over earthquake-damaged building | CBC Radio

A earthquake damaged building was claimed by a group of endangered birds in New Zealand, but because the birds have nested, removing them is illegal. It seems that we can be controlled by endangered animals.

The birds known as Black billed gulls have taken over an earthquake damaged building in New Zealand. Normally it would not be a problem, however the birds have already nested. The birds have also been an endangered species, with their population dropping to 20% in the last 30 years.

Over 300 nests have settled; under New Zealand’s Wildlife Protection Act, it is illegal to disturb the birds once they start nesting. Anyone who does can face imprisonment or a fine of up to $100,000 NZD (around $91,000 CDN). 

. The birds have caused a few problems for people as they’ve nested live near the city. Bink Bowler, owner of the nearby Bell Cafe, claims the gulls are harassing his customers, stealing their food, and breaking his glassware. “They scare off people,” Bowler said. “It’s become a big problem.” The gulls have apparently been such a problem for nearby restaurants, that the owners have had to arm their customers with water guns. While some people do not like the birds, others are researching them.

“Some people have really come in and embraced them … because they’ve never seen these birds before or never actually realized that they existed, and they’ve used this opportunity to educate themselves or to educate their friends.” Vanessa Mander, a ranger at New Zealand’s Department of Conservation. Because the birds are a protected species, the only way to use the building would be to have to let them move on and find a different nesting place. This could take a couple years for them to find a better place to live.

The reason for the birds not being removed is mainly because they are endangered. In most places, removing nests that have eggs inside is illegal. However because of the birds being able to live there because they have nested, what could we do if they took another building. The birds controlled the area and took away our privilege to use that area, even though they caused problems.

The restaurant owners near the building are unhappy with the birds, but under the the wildlife protection act they cant do anything but endure.