Something stinks at AT&T Park — and no, it's not the San Francisco Giants' pitching.
A large flock of seagulls (not the one you're thinking of) has invaded the idyllic seaside stadium in recent weeks, terrorizing fans and bothering players. The birds are Western Gulls, a species native to the Bay Area that nest primarily on nearby Alcatraz Island.
Gulls regularly plunder the stadium looking for any unattended nacho plates, half-eaten hot dogs and any other leftovers — not unlike your stoner roommate from college rifling through the refrigerator at 4 a.m.. Just look at this smug little dude. He is having the best day ever:
As expected, thousands of seagulls feasting on fast food leads to a whole lot of bird poop — and, of course, the gulls' favorite restroom at AT&T Park just happens to be on the heads of unsuspecting fans.
Oh, and the birds are causing some serious issues for the players, too. Speaking to the San Jose Mercury News, shortstop Brandon Crawford notes that the gulls on-field acrobatics are a serious distraction during games. "You're focused on the pitcher," he said. "But you definitely notice them."
So what can the Giants do to rid their ballpark of these unwanted feathered friends? Turns out not very much.
The gulls are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 — one of the oldest environmental laws on the books in the United States. Although the law protects less-obnoxious (and seriously endangered) species such as the California Condor and the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, it also covers crows and several varieties of pigeons. (Neither of which really need any protecting, right?)
The act makes it illegal to transport, breed, kill or consume any of the 800-plus species recognized by the statute.
Long story short: No, you cannot shoot the gulls — although that might make for some interesting baseball.
This leaves the Giants with two options: Pay a professional falconer $8,000 per game to legally hunt the birds, or simply let the gulls continue on their nacho-eating, pooping-on-fans crusade. While the falconer appears the more badass solution, the Giants aren't as enthused. According to the Mercury News, the team's manager of operations, Jorge Costa, believes the potential falcon-on-gull carnage would prove too gruesome for many fans. (As if watching the 2012 World Series champs completely bomb out this season wasn't painful enough.)
So, for now, the gulls are here to stay. Next time you're at AT&T Park, bring a poncho and pony up next to your seagull seatmate — but be prepared to share some of your garlic fries.