Niagara Gazette

Communities

May 25, 2013

Gulls getting best of Walmart ... for now

LOCKPORT: Birds keeping Walmart project at bay, but not for much longer

Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — It’s difficult to say how many there are. But when it comes to the seagulls that have inhabited the former Lockport Mall site, one thing is for certain — they are not popular around town.

The ring-billed gulls have once again inhabited the South Transit Road property that will one day be home to the Town of Lockport’s Walmart Supercenter, once construction gets going.

But the project has stalled, first because of legal challenges, recently because of the gulls. The birds have interfered with the construction process twice before, last summer and in 2011 during the mall demolition. Walmart did not take any action before the last two nesting seasons, which runs from the end of March until August.

In both situations, the seagulls were nesting on the grounds and — being a federally protected species — seagulls cannot be forcibly removed during nesting season, which led to the halting of the Walmart construction. The retail giant did not want to move forward until the birds were gone.

To most who shop at the nearby Bon-Ton department store, or visit any of the restaurants or the First Niagara Bank branch in front of the mall site, the gulls are just annoying.

“To hell with the birds,” said Al Nerber of Lockport. “This should have been put up two years ago. They’re just a nuisance. They’re just a fecal bird. All they do is poo.”

Walmart had Buffalo Exterminating out on the mall site in March, getting rid of any nesting materials and encouraging the birds to leave. The retail giant believes construction will finally begin soon.

“We’re hopeful that we can move ahead with bidding and construction of our new Lockport Supercenter within the next several months,” said Bill Wertz, Walmart spokesman. “We are in the process of finalizing our plans and it looks as if the steps we have taken to discourage seagulls from nesting on the site have been effective.”

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