by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
Rogers City school board member Don Kromer had a question during Monday’s monthly meeting that has been on the minds of many city residents.
Why are so many seagulls congregating in the back parking lot of the high school? There is no definitive answer, but most believe there are more now than in previous years.
The birds gather in the middle of the parking lot, the highest points of the high school building and on the former Huron Auto Sales building on the west side of Bradley Highway.
The building is to be razed by the developers of Dollar General.
For now, it seems to be the main gathering place. Seagull droppings cover windows of the empty building, exterior walls and parking area. The birds also like the roof of neighboring Thunder Bay Community Health Services.
“I did see that (high school) flock a couple of days ago,” said Paul Fox, Department of Natural Resources conservation officer in Presque Isle County. “They are a social bird. So, it is not uncommon that they feed and flock together.”
Kirk Schaedig, Rogers City Area Schools’ head of maintenance and transportation does not have a problem with them at the moment.
“As long as they stay away from our buses, they can do whatever they want,” said Schaedig.
It has not become a problem so far, but two years ago a high school girl running across the lot was knocked down by one and injured; however, there were younger gulls in the flock. It was after school was out in late June, early July.
Schaedig has not noticed any young ones this year.
“All we can do is run traffic through there, once in a while,” said Schaedig. “I am sure they are nesting on the old car dealership. They may even have some nests above the gym at the high school, and the others are just hanging around, close by.”
“They could be nesting up on those buildings,” said Fox. “They really seem to gravitate to the flat-top buildings that catch a lot of sun. I don’t know if they are nesting there, but it would not surprise me if they did not have some nests up there, which would contribute to more birds hanging out.”
Seagulls are a federally protected bird that would require a federal nuisance permit from U.S. Fish and Wildlife to kill or remove. The regional office is in Ann Arbor.
“I never have heard of them issuing a permit to allow the take of seagulls, but that would be the agency you would have to go through,” said Fox.
“But if they become a problem in the city, you could contact our wildlife staff or wildlife biologists and they might be able to try to assist in spooking them off, and other tips.”