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I think Destination Salem might be running an advertising campaign to seagulls. 

The gulls, which are notorious to the Salem Willows and Winter island, are now making their way into the downtown.

What I think has been drawing them here isn’t really an advertising campaign -- it’s the amount of excess one-time use trash.

If you go out to any restaurant now, the majority are offering everything in takeout containers such as boxes, plastic, etc. and with those containers, more waste, such as sugar packets, salt and pepper packets, napkins, etc. If you were to look in the trash cans outside of the patios, they quickly are becoming full, as material isn’t stacked together such as like container with like container; then that trash collects in a dumpster.

The other evening, as I was heading to the beach, I saw a swarm of gulls circling around The Derby (Tavern in the Square) and Riley Plaza. I’ve also seen them right on the pedestrian mall within the last week, and I’ve had them circling overhead a lot as well.

Even in the area of the Willows, the gulls are a little more aggressive this year. I’ve been told tales of them swooping right down and taking people’s meals from their hands.

I don’t think that this is a result of not getting enough food. I actually think it’s the result of too much trash.

Also, in areas such as the Willows, some people are thinking that they’re not getting enough food now, when they are. (I’d also like to note that back in March, I had one land on my car hood down at Winter island, and it literally had drool coming off its beak. I’ve never seen anything like that, and, I am an amateur birder).

I understand that restaurants are using one-time-use containers because of public health concerns right now, but, there are also restaurants that are still using plates, such as Opus and Red’s.

It may be time to recommend other places go back to regular dishware as well. Not only is this having an effect on the gulls, but it’s also making the downtown quite trashy, with the restaurant napkins and other objects flying around. They will have a long-term effect on our world.

If it’s decided that nothing can be done in order to curtail use of single-use products, at minimum it would be nice for dumpsters to be checked more often.

Beyond the trash though, we do have to be careful for the gulls swooping in, they are becoming like the pigeons in downtown Boston, and affect other creatures in our natural world ... and there’s a delicate balance in the ecosystem.

Heather Famico



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