Tourists in Venice, Italy, have been provided with water pistols to keep aggressive seagulls away.
The birds have been known to snatch food out of tourists’ hands, including ice creams, croissants and sandwiches, as well as smashing glasses and plates. Seagulls normally congregate around St Mark’s Square—the most popular tourist attraction of the Italian city—and across Venice’s balconies, causing several issues for hoteliers.
In an interview with The Times, manager of the Monaco & Grand Canal Hotel Enrico Mazzocco recalled a comic episode: A seagull flew off with an entire steak just when the waiter was serving it on a plate and lifted the lid.
To overcome the issue, the Venice Hoteliers’ Association (AVA) has come up with a new strategy: Water pistols. Tourists sitting outside the Monaco & Grand Canal Hotel or the Gritti Hotel are now given orange water guns. And orange is not just a random color. According to birds’ experts, bright orange objects are particularly repugnant to seagulls and thus more likely to keep them away from visitors.
You don’t even need to use them, you just need to keep them on the table.Paolo Lorenzini Director of the Gritti Hotel told ANSA
In the past, several other methods have been used to combat the birds, including a fake owl and falconers, but they proved too costly to sustain. Other methods currently under consideration are acoustic deterrents and nasty smells.
Although seagulls may be annoying to hoteliers and tourists, they are also a protected species, meaning that no inhumane manners can be used to deter them. Gulls are not the only birds to bother tourists in St Mark’s Square. In 2008, the city banned the sale of pigeon feed due to the high number of birds in the area.