No laughing matter: Aggressive Laughing Gulls terrorize the southern Jersey Shore
Anyone who has spent some time at the Jersey Shore may have noticed that seagulls seem to get a little feistier the further south one goes.
Visitors to places like Wildwood are always on the lookout for gulls that try to snatch food right out of their hands.
Places like Sam’s Pizza Palace on the boardwalk even have signs warning that there are no refunds for pizza stolen by the birds.
“They come back and they want us to give them free pizza,” says Anthony Zuccarello who works at Sam’s Pizza. “They leave their slices over there, birds come down and attack them.”
Most outdoor seating areas have installed overhead wires to keep the gulls from swooping down and attacking diners.
Down the road in Ocean City, they had to hire a falconer to keep the seagulls away. Any many people say that the gulls south along the shore are meaner and bolder.
“They most ravenous, murderous – maybe not murderous. I don’t think they’ve actually murdered anybody,” says Star Ledger writer Pete Genovese.
Why are gulls in the south so aggressive? It is simple science, according to Scott Barnes of the New Jersey Audubon.
“Technically there’s no such thing as a seagull,” he says. “It’s kind of a common term. But there really is no animal or species,” he says.
New Jersey has as many as 17 species of gulls. The gulls that hang around the boardwalk are called Laughing Gulls. Notable for the adults’ black heads and laughing calls. They are a little less fearful of humans.
“They’re scrappy, yeah, they’re aggressive. In that sense, maybe opportunistic is a better word,” says Barnes.
And it just so happens that the world’s largest breeding colonies of Laughing Gulls is in the marshes behind Stone Harbor, just north of the Wildwoods.