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Raptors Returning To Ocean City Boardwalk For 6th Year

Raptors Returning To Ocean City Boardwalk For 6th Year


January 23rd 2024

In April, East Coast Falcons (ECF) and their gull-chasing raptors are set to return to dissuade gulls from causing disturbances for residents and vacationers. The City Council is scheduled to grant a contract for 2024 to East Coast Falcons on Thursday. The contract, valued at $328,012 with a daily rate of $2,359, is eligible for renewal for an additional year from April 2025 through October 2025, according to the resolution.

Dan Kelchner, the city’s director of Community Services, expressed support for renewing the bird abatement contract with East Coast Falcons for 2024, emphasizing that the “services are beyond satisfactory.” Kelchner stated in a memo that ECF has effectively minimized disruptions caused by nuisance birds on the Boardwalk, beaches, and interior areas where gull presence has raised concerns for the business community.

East Coast Falcons, owned by Erik Swanson, secured the 2024 contract as the sole bidder. Swanson, along with his handlers and raptors, has been overseeing bird control in Ocean City since 2019.

The bird-abatement program, initiated in 2019, initially focused on the Boardwalk and downtown areas. However, over the past three years, it has expanded to cover various other areas on the island.

Key aspects of the 2024 program include:

  • Program duration: April 4 to Oct 19
  • Services starting at 8 a.m. or earlier to cater to breakfast establishments and eateries
  • Abatement services in downtown district, 34th Street business district, and other interior business districts and public spaces
  • Weekly educational opportunities for residents and visitors about ECF and the science behind falconry-based bird abatement

Kelchner highlighted that the program has evolved beyond a mere bird abatement initiative. ECF actively collaborates with the city to create public awareness and promote educational aspects of falconry-based bird abatement, drawing interest from both residents and visitors.

Mayor Jay Gillian and the city administration enlisted East Coast Falcons in 2019 in response to numerous complaints about aggressive gulls posing a threat to people's food. The program aims to chase gulls back into their natural habitat—bays, marshlands, and the ocean.

 

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