OCEAN CITY, N.J. (CBS) — People aren’t just trying to beat the heat down the Shore. In Ocean City, they’re also dodging seagulls that are becoming more and more aggressive. Mayor Jay Gillian issued a reminder for Ocean City residents and beachgoers that feeding seagulls is against the law.
In a letter on the town’s website, Gillian reiterated the notion, saying the birds have become extremely aggressive and are posing a public safety hazard.
“Some people think it’s funny to feed the gulls and see them swarm. For the health and safety of both animals and humans, this must stop,” Gillian said. “Feeding gulls and wildlife in Ocean City is against the law.”
Gillian also urged boardwalk vendors to provide its customers with enclosed containers for takeout orders.
“The administration will work with boardwalk merchants to explore the feasibility of netting, noise and other ways to prevent them from pilfering food,” he stated.
The mayor also pleaded with parents to understand that the birds can attempt to steal food out of their children’s hands.
Gillian also said residents and visitors should not hit or throw things at the birds, but they can help by keeping food away from them.
Beachgoers described to CBS3 some of the frustrations the aggressive seagulls have caused.
“You turn your back and they’re coming from behind,” Jack Martine, of Vineland, New Jersey, said. “They’re brazen. They’ll take it right out of your hand.”
“Once one comes they all come,” Jason Grant, of Northeast Philadelphia, said. “They know where the food’s at.”
David Yum, of Connecticut, is taking every precaution.
“I have a bag of popcorn because these seagulls are notorious for swooping down and grabbing pizza or popcorn and they’ll just take off with it,” Yum said. “We should stop because they just create havoc.”
In a statement, Gillian also said, “The best deterrent is the simplest: Cut off this easy and unnatural food supply. That means not just refraining from feeding them, but protecting your food from them.”
According to an Ocean City ordinance, people face fines if they repeatedly feed seagulls.
“They’ve gotten more aggressive over the years,” Polish Water Ice owner John Viehweger said. “We’ve gotten used to it. They eat very well down here.”
Beachgoers have advice if you’re looking to keep your lunch.
“They’re just a nuisance,” Martine said. “Eat stuff they don’t like, keep it low, cover it and you’ll be all right.”
CBS3’s Dan Koob contributed to this report.