Marine Corps calls in hawks to control gulls at MCRD San Diego

Julia LeDoux
May 12, 2020 - 11:27 am

Adams Falconry Service

There are some new wanna-be Marines at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, and it’s not who you might expect

The depot has called in a falconry service based in California to deal with western gulls that are adversely impacting recruit training.

“The gulls interfere with outdoor training on the obstacle course, confidence courses, and cause damage to electrical connections on solar panels and stucco on historic facilities,” explained Capt. Martin Harris, a MCRD San Diego spokesman.

The Navy put out a call for services, which was answered by Adam’s Falconry, last month. According to the call, the Marines were looking for a contractor who could, “provide falconry services to conduct hazing activities around the recruit training areas and recruit mess hall.”

Owned by Adam Chavez, the son of an Army veteran, Adam’s Falconry Service will use Harris hawks and the predator-prey relationship to control the gulls.

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“To control the gulls, we need to establish a predatory presence,” he said. “Once they know we are there, we let the hawks/falcons chase them. After a while, the seagulls will recognize us, our car, and our bird and will leave the location once they see us."

Chavez found a small falcon when he was 12 and has been a licensed falconer for more than three decades.

“As a falconer, we are conservationists so our goal is to harass the gulls not kill them,’ he said. “ We need to pursue them with deadly intent or it won't work. The gulls need to know we are serious.”

The company was awarded a five-year, $127,440 contract to control the gulls. Chavez and his staff will be at the depot for 30 days straight during the nesting season and then another three weeks or so throughout the year as needed to control the gulls.

“During the nesting season, April to July, they become aggressive and can attack personnel and visitors aboard the depot,” explained Harris.

He added that in accordance with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Permit, the depot actively deters the gulls year round.

“The use of falconry is one aspect of the mitigation measures and is only used during specific times of year,” Harris stressed.

Chavez and his team also clean up the messes the gulls leave behind on rooftops. They also work around recruit training schedules.

The ultimate goal is to get the gulls to relocate to nearby Catalina Island. Adam’s Falconry provides similar services at Fort Irwin in San Bernardino County and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms.

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