By Hannah Neary, Local Democracy Reporter
A London council has hired a hawk to tackle seagulls locals say are attacking dogs and people.
Westminster City Council has employed the raptor with sharp talons and keen eyesight to patrol Soho during the nesting season.
The hawk will be encouraged to stop seagulls nesting on and around Kemp House, an apartment block in Berwick Street.
People previously said they had seen a series of attacks by gulls on by-passers and small dogs, and holes have been ripped out of pigeons.
The Tory-led council has already installed netting and spikes on the building after a woman was attacked when she allegedly moved a nest on the roof last spring.
The authority has now opted to employ the hawk on a fixed-term contract as nesting season approaches.
A contractor will fly the bird from Kemp House’s roof three times a week to keep people safe, reduce the spread of disease and cut down on noisy and troublesome gull calling.
The council’s Labour group said in a newsletter: “The problem with seagulls continues and we have urged the housing department to take the necessary action to control the problem.”
The council’s executive director of environment, Raj Mistry, said: “Westminster City Council is to employ a hawk as part of our ongoing efforts to stop seagulls from nesting on and around Kemp House.
“These birds of prey are trained to scare, and not kill, other birds that can be a pest for people living and working nearby.
“As well as being extremely noisy, gulls also create a mess in their search for food, and their excrement can spread diseases, such as salmonella. This measure is in addition to the installation of spikes and netting.”
This is not the first time birds of prey have been called in to tackle issues in the city.
Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone introduced hawks to Trafalgar Square to hunt and scare off pigeons in the early 1990s.
Hawks are also employed at the Wimbledon Championships to see off pesky pigeons from the tennis courts.
Berwick Street is an iconic spot in the heart of Soho and home to historic pubs and market traders.
It was known as the “Golden Mile” of vinyl in the 1990s and was pictured on the album cover for Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? with Kemp House visible in the background.
Pictured top: A hawk, similar to this one, is to patrol the skies of Soho (Picture: @BraneCiro)