BEAKING NEWS: Researchers Have Found How To Stop Seagulls Stealing Our Chips
Researchers in the UK have come up with a clever plan to deter seagulls from swooping in and pinching our precious hot chips.
The next time you're trying to enjoy some fish and chippies at the beach without the fear that a hungry gull is about to pilfer your lunch, keep this study published by The Royal Society in mind.
Researchers from Exeter University set up an experiment with Herring gulls -- a type of seagull in Britain that have "a bad reputation for pinching other people's food".
The researchers placed 250g of fried potato chips (about the amount of two McDonald's medium fries), in a sealed transparent bag, with an experimenter crouched in front of the delicious chippies.
When the gull approached the potato bait, the experimenter would hit a stopwatch and stare directly at the gull, recording results about how the birds reacted by "human gaze direction".
The same experiment was conducted while the researcher was looking away -- approximately 60 degrees to the left or right of the gull.
"We found that human gaze direction significantly affected gulls’ latency to approach the food: gulls took less time to approach when the experimenter was facing away versus looking directly at them," the paper reads.
"This demonstrates that gulls use behavioural cues from humans when making foraging decisions in urban environments, and that they find human gaze aversive," it continued.
Which means, the next time you're trying to enjoy your chips in peace, be ready to give the local seagulls a good glare to avoid snack-theft from the sneaky birds.
We're just hoping it applies to ice-cream theft as well as chips.
The study was conducted in response to increasing conflict between humans and herring gulls, which has the potential to "exacerbate population declines of this species".
We're not sure if the study will apply to Australian seagulls, who seem to have mastered the art of pinching beach-side chips but we're definitely going to be practising our best gull glares.
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