The soldiers who patrol the grounds of the Drottningholm Palace have been faced with a somewhat unusual health and safety problem in recent years. They are being attacked by aggressive birds, which hinder them in guarding the home of the Swedish royal family, reports Expressen.
The birds in question are common terns, which become aggressive during nesting season. Like all birds in Sweden, the common tern is a protective species – which is why the court has applied for a wildlife control permit from the County Administrative Board in Stockholm.
"The Swedish Armed Forces consider this a problem since the terns are nesting in the same area where the Royal Guards are on patrol. That is a problem which we are now trying to handle in the best way possible," palace warden Stefan Wirtén told Expressen.
Common tern. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/SCANPIX/TT
According to the application, seen by Expressen, the court wants to shoot ten birds from the quay in front of the palace, which is located on the Lovön island near Stockholm.
"We've already tried all methods we've been able to think of, and this is a last resort for us. The Armed Forces have got back to us several times asking us to handle this issue, which they consider a big problem," Wirtén said.
Sören Lindén of the Stockholm Ornithological Society, said he was surprised by the royal court's application.
"Raising this issue as wildlife control is ridiculous. Some terns being aggressive against guards? These are birds weighing a maximum of 100 grams. They are small birds, which you could fend off using a stick or an umbrella," Lindén told Expressen.
The ornithological society is one of the consulting bodies the County Administrative Board has turned to for advice on whether or not to grant permission to shoot the birds.
"We will strongly advise them to reject the application. This is a small problem which shouldn't lead to killing the birds," Lindén said.
The County Administrative Board is expected to give a decision at the beginning of May at the earliest.