CHICAGO—Laridaphobia (the intense fear of seagulls) may become a common term soon enough, as the number of seagull attacks reported in the news rises worldwide. But has anything really changed? Bird-X, Inc. investigates. In mid-March 2014, a woman in the UK reports a seagull attack that occurred during her lunch break. After falling down as the result of being spooked by a large aggressive seagull, she’s turned to suing her company’s landlord for not controlling the building’s bird population. In Mrs. Kelly’s case, the birds were nesting on the roof of her office building – a situation that could have been prevented with proper bird control. Also in March 2014, a beach in Orange County, Calif., announced its plans to use a live hawk to chase away seagulls and pigeons, and in February 2014, a beach on the Coast of East Devon, UK, made the same announcement — citing that a trained falconer will simultaneously entertain tourists (source). In January 2014, the Pope famously released peace doves at the Vatican — but a seagull immediately attacked one of the helpless doves once it was released (source). This seagull was only acting on natural instinct, but it certainly didn’t do its species any good in the eyes of the public worldwide. “Whether it’s hype or not, the public will likely be more fearful of these common birds due to recent publicity, and may be more inclined to run from them – which could well result in an increased number of injuries on business properties.” says Bird-X Media Director Alison James. While actual seagull attacks are quite rare, and humans have been living with seagulls as a part of life for many centuries, all gulls have sharp beaks, sharp talons, and are quite capable of scaring an unsuspecting person if they are nesting nearby or feel threatened – especially if that person does not see gulls on a regular basis. Large groups of gulls can even display “mobbing behavior” by teaming up against perceived predators, such as humans in their territory. Furthermore, in nature, seagulls regularly steal food from other birds. This carries over into the human world, and seagulls are well-known snack thieves. This is usually not a problem, but again if a person is fearful of seagulls or surprised, they can stumble or fall – again, a liability for businesses. Regardless of whether it’s warranted, we’ll likely see more seagull scares in the press this year, as well as more cautious tourists. Add to that the fact that Michael Bay is now remaking the classic Hitchcock film “The Birds,” and as The Examiner jokes, “there may be exploding seagulls.” Will our beaches ever be the same again?