TTC to use sound cannons to keep away problematic seagulls

Click to play video: 'TTC uses nets and sound canons to deter nesting gulls'
TTC uses nets and sound canons to deter nesting gulls
WATCh: It tried using hawks, it tried using kites, but nothing has been successful in keeping thousands of birds from nesting on the TTC’s Leslie Street barns. Now, the transit agency is hoping a combination of nets and sound canons will keep the seagulls and their poop at bay. Matthew Bingley reports. – Mar 14, 2024

To keep seagulls from nesting on the roof of the Leslie Barns facility, the TTC will soon begin using sound cannons to scare away the growing number of birds.

The transit agency says the sound cannons don’t actually fire ammunition and won’t harm the seagulls. Instead, they emit a loud sound that will scare away the birds, encouraging them to relocate.

The TTC says seagulls have been increasing in numbers since Leslie Barns — a streetcar maintenance and storage facility in the city’s east end — opened its doors and green roof in 2015.

“Each year, the TTC estimates that 10,000 to 15,000 seagulls visit Leslie Barns, resulting in unsanitary and disruptive working conditions for TTC employees,” the transit agency said in a release.

“The high roof location also creates difficult living conditions for seagull chicks who are desperate for food and water and not yet capable of flight.”

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Those living and working near the Leslieville facility, located at the southeast corner of Leslie Street and Lake Shore Boulevard, and customers who travel on the 83 Jones route may hear the sound cannons starting later this month and until the end of June.

The TTC says the cannons will be activated a maximum of four times per hour between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

“In the neighbourhood, the cannons may sound similar to a single firework in the distance. They will be pointed away from the residential area to decrease noise,” the TTC says.

Within the building, the sound will be more noticeable, “similar to the volume of a jackhammer or an oncoming ambulance.”

If there are no seagulls present, the TTC says the cannons will not be used.

The transit agency says it’s worked with a biologist and noise consultant to ensure the sound cannons are used safely, effectively and within provincial limits. “No seagulls will be harmed in this process.”

The TTC says it’s tried many mitigation techniques to prevent the birds from settling on and around the roof.

This includes installing wires on the roof to make it more challenging for the birds to fly onto the roof and covering the roof with plastic sheets and activating the green roof sprinklers.

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“While some of these techniques helped, they were not effective in reducing the seagull numbers long-term,” the TTC said.

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