VIDEO: Food business in King’s Lynn employs falconry to keep pests at bay

A food business in Lynn has employed an unusual method of alleviating problems with pests at its 30 acre site.

Pinguin Foods, based at Scania Way, has been using falconry for the last nine months to deter pests such as pigeons and gulls from roosting on its ledges and rooftops.

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory.
Gary Butcher (NBC Environment Falconer) with Lola ANL-161122-150805009

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory. Gary Butcher (NBC Environment Falconer) with Lola ANL-161122-150805009

The company, which stores, processes and packages vegetables, has embarked on a three-year programme with Snetterton-based bird control specialists NBC Environment which uses falconry visits to break the cycle of returning pests.

Tim Homewood, technical manager at the Pinguin site in Lynn, said: “We have to take the problems very seriously – there could be contamination to food, so controlling the birds is very important.”

Mr Homewood explained that the business had previously used more traditional bird control methods such as spikes and nets but said that, since falconry has been used at the site, the pests have been much less of an issue.

He added: “After less than a year we are already seeing a definite improvement and the number of gulls and pigeons on our site has reduced significantly.

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory.
Lola in flight on site ANL-161122-150738009

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory. Lola in flight on site ANL-161122-150738009

“They have always been a problem for us. They see us as a comfortable place to set up home but having them here is not appropriate for a site such as ours.”

The Pinguin Foods site produces 10 to 12 million packets of frozen vegetables every month, including carrots, peas and sweetcorn.

NBC Environment uses specially trained falcons and hawks to discourage gulls and pigeons from nesting at a particular site on a permanent basis, by modifying patterns of bird behaviour, reducing breeding and dettering colonies from returning to their habitual nesting spots.

Stuart Miller, key account development manager at NBC Environment, said: “Gulls often return to the same nesting spot, year after year, bringing their offspring with them. They can live for up to 35 years, start breeding at only three years old and can produce around 30 chicks in a ten year period.

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory.
Lola in flight on site ANL-161122-150658009

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory. Lola in flight on site ANL-161122-150658009

“As the chicks grow and reach breeding age they may return to the same nesting spot so the number of birds, and associated problems, increases year-on-year. A colony of gulls will remain at the nesting spot for around six months of the year and once in situ it’s very hard to remove or disperse them.”

“Pigeons, whilst not as aggressive as gulls, present a year round problem. Whilst not habitual by nature, we do find that once they discover a comfortable environment they are likely to stay there unless deterred.

“All UK birds are protected by law, which makes it illegal to kill or injure a bird, or to move or destroy an active nest.”

Mr Miller added that the company’s birds are a non-lethal means of control, as they are trained not to kill.

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory. ANL-161122-150725009

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory. ANL-161122-150725009

NBC Environment falconer Gary Butcher explained that the company has about 200 working birds, and 35 falconers, which work nationally with an array of companies, including food distribution and those in the waste industry.

The main problems presented by gulls and pigeons are: damage to buildings, health issues, and safety (as pigeon faeces is a serious slip hazard).

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory.
Lola ANL-161122-150831009

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory. Lola ANL-161122-150831009

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory.
Gary Butcher (NBC Environment Falconer) with Lola ANL-161122-150846009

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory. Gary Butcher (NBC Environment Falconer) with Lola ANL-161122-150846009

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory.
Lola ANL-161122-150912009

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory. Lola ANL-161122-150912009

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory.
Che Ballard with his hawk ANL-161122-150953009

Pinguin Foods, King's Lynn are using falconry to try and deter pigeons and gulls from nesting/scavenging at the factory. Che Ballard with his hawk ANL-161122-150953009