Did you fall for the seagull April fool?

We're sure people spotted it, but just in case anyone was getting in a flap...

Friday, 1st April 2016, 9:44 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:37 pm
Could seagulls actually solve any litter problems?

The story from earlier today was, of course, an April fool. There were a few tell-tale giveaways, such as the demonstration taking place until midday today.

And did you spot the name of the ornithological psychologist, Flora Iplo, was an anagram? For anyone who didn’t see it earlier, the story is below.

• For anyone living near the sea, the mess caused by seagulls tearing open bags of rubbish is not an uncommon site – but a solution may have been found.

An environmental enthusiast from Sussex has hit upon a novel way of dealing with the issue of rubbish, which could be of huge benefit places like Bognor Regis and to people visiting the seaside from Chichester and further afield.

Love Clean Streets Founder Ian Blackburn has spent the past 12 months bonding with a small flock of seagulls, training them to pick up litter.

He said: “Seeing the seagulls on the seafront tearing open rubbish bags on the promenade last summer was infuriating me. They would use their beaks to rip open the bags in such a vigorous way that they almost looked like monsters.I had an idea that if I could train them to pick up the rubbish and be rewarded with food, everyone would be happier.”

In his day job, Ian runs an environmental reporting app, Love Clean Streets, which is close to reaching one million interactions of people reporting fly-tips, dog mess and graffiti across the UK.

“I really didn’t think it would be possible,” he said of his new venture. “But here I am with my small team of rubbish-clearing gulls, turning them into litter pickers instead of litter peckers.”

Flora Iplo, an ornithological psychologist, said, “Seagulls are very intelligent and misjudged animals. Like most of us, they want food in the most convenient way possible, and what Ian has done is tamed these animals through the power of hunger to his advantage.”

Most people have already witnessed seagulls using their brains – they stamp their feet to imitate rainfall and trick earthworms to come to the surface, where they can be eaten. Ian has plans to recruit and train more litter-picking gulls and roll out his concept across the UK, and is carrying out a trial until midday today, April 1, on Eastbourne seafront.

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