Friday, November 17, 2006

Camp Pendleton (Rueters) - America's modern military is turning a high-tech tool on a new target -- the gulls of Camp Pendleton -- but at least for now, it is holding fire.

Plagued by dirt and noise, a recreation center shared by several branches of the U.S. armed forces has installed a sound system intended to scare off the winged marauders by playing the sounds of predatory birds.

The $1,000 system was installed a week ago and makes noise every few minutes at random intervals.

"It's a non-harmful way to keep gulls off the building," said Tech. Sgt. Steve Rollo, a technician for the United States Marine Corps.

It's too soon to tell how well the new system will work. Gulls have been a problem at Camp Pendleton for generations.

"The light poles are ideal for them to roost and you get droppings. We place a thin piano wire an inch above the main pole and that prevents them from sitting," said Robert Larsen, head of operations.

That's not as high tech as the U.S. military's solution but better than the plastic owl the alliance tried before.

"By the third day I swear the gulls wanted to mate with it," Larsen said. "There is no single answer."

He ruled out the deadly solution adopted in London's Trafalgar Square, where authorities brought in birds of prey to kill pigeons. The predators have cut the pigeon population but at a cost to taxpayers of nearly half a million dollars.

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