A SOLUTION to fight the scourge of seagulls in Bangor town centre is being trialled.

Elsa the eagle owl has been called in with her handler Islwyn Jones to act as a deterrent.

Herring gulls have become a problem in the town centre attacking people, especially those with food, and causing litter problems by raiding dustbins.

Many businesses are already provided with 'seagull proof' litter bags during waste collections due to the ongoing problem.

Now, the City of Bangor Town Council has engaged Islwyn Jones, a falconer and birds of prey expert from Pen y Bryn falconry, at Corwen.

Mr Jones, with 18-year-old Elsa, will be seen out and about walking Bangor's streets, standing in front of shops and cafes, in the coming weeks.

Ian Jones, City of Bangor town clerk, said: “Islwyn and Elsa will help to provide a deterrent to seagulls to stop them entering the city centre, from attacking people and nesting.

"Seagulls are frightened by the sight of the eagle owl, it is their natural predator, and she will help to discourage them from mating and nesting which happens at about this time of year. The owl can't fly about, but her presence is enough.

"The seagulls are a protected species, but they can cause a public health risk in the urban environment."

It is the first time an eagle owl has been used in Bangor, and it will be trialled in the weeks from April 5 and April 22 .” Further visits are also planned for Bangor.

Mr Jones added: "Elsa already well known celebrity in Caernarfon where she has helped with the seagull problem.

"Islwyn is very affable, happy to chat about Elsa and to educate people about birds of prey and the problem with seagulls."

Gwynedd Council has also been running a campaign to educate about the problem with seagull guidelines and tips on its website.

Tips include: Don't feed gulls, don't drop litter, and store food in seagull proof containers.

Don’t drop rubbish or food scraps on the floor – it’s an offence and it also attracts seagulls.

Use bins with lids or take the food waste home and place in the food bin.

Don’t feed the gulls, and avoid giving them an opportunity to snatch food – be vigilant and keep food close to you.

Keep away from the nests of young gulls.

Encourage any businesses that serve food to ensure that any food waste is cleared as soon as possible to prevent attracting gulls.

Don’t encourage large birds into the garden.

Food scraps should be placed securely in a bin; and the lid of the brown food bins should be closed properly and bins are put out on the correct collection day.