Venice’s seagull problem leads to squirt guns being handed out at high-end hotels

Upscale Venetian hotels are arming locals and tourists with squirt guns to fight off food-stealing seagulls when they book rooms overlooking the Italian city’s famous Grand Canal.

The problem has persisted for several years and is believed to have worsened after Venice banned the feeding of pigeons in 2008, leading to a 50% drop in the bird population, according to the Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) – a national non-profit organization. news cooperative.

Seagulls have since flocked to St. Mark’s Square and around hotel balconies that face the canal to feed. Seabirds descend every time breakfast and lunch are served in hopes of snatching sandwiches or pizza from unsuspecting diners, reports ANSA.

The Gritti Palace, an ornate five-star boutique hotel that was originally built in the 14th century, used orange water guns to ward off seagulls.

“When they see them, they run away,” Gritti Palace director Paolo Lorenzoni told ANSA. “You don’t even have to use them, you just need to keep them on the table.”

Lorenzoni went on to say that the hotel had tried other methods to discourage seagulls, including the use of a spinning fake owl and a falconer, but the plastic water guns were the most effective on the practical and financial plan.

Nights at the Gritti Palace typically cost upwards of $1,000 per night. Flocks of seagulls and pigeons are said to have wreaked havoc breaking glasses and spilling drinks and food which ultimately have to be refunded to hotel guests.

Guests of the Monaco & Grand Canal Hotel have reported similar experiences. The hotel is about a six-minute walk from the Gritti Palace.

Water pistols were distributed to guests dining outside the four-star hotel, according to the Times.

“We decided to act after a customer put a croissant in his mouth and a hidden seagull dived in and ripped it out of his hand,” said the manager of the Monaco & Grand Canal hotel, Enrico Mazzocco, to the British media.

Mazzocco named another food theft incident where a seagull allegedly took away “an entire steak” just as a waiter lifted the lid off the plate.

Much like the Gritti Palace, squirt guns are an unexpected tabletop tool considering overnight stays at the Monaco & Grand Canal Hotel range in the hundreds to thousands of dollars.

This is not the first time that seagulls have created problems for the Venetian hotel industry, which welcomes around 20 million visitors a year, according to World Population Review.

In 2016, a growing number of seagull “attacks” led the Association Saint-Marc to try to develop a seagull-repelling fragrance, according to The Local – a European news outlet.

Fox News Digital has contacted the Venetian Hoteliers Association for comment on the effectiveness of visible squirt guns against seagulls.

The current seagull problem in Venice comes at a time when the world is monitoring and responding to outbreaks of bird flu.

The most recent data from the Italian animal health and food safety authority on avian influenza infections detected “highly” and “low” pathogenic influenzas in chickens, roosters, laying hens, broilers , turkey, ducks, quail, guinea fowl, pheasant, ostrich, game birds and multi-species flocks.

Although seagulls were not detected in Italian bird flu tests, the disease spreads through bird-to-bird contact.

The CDC reports that waterfowl and poultry have an increased risk of transmitting bird flu when they touch an infected surface.

In England, herring gulls (AKA seagulls) have tested positive for bird flu in Cornwall and some have even been found dead, according to the BBC.

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