Seagulls are beautiful animals to observe in their natural environment but they can be a nuisance around your property causing damage, creating constant noise, mess and health risks from their droppings. Also, during the breeding season the birds can become aggressive if they feel threatened.
Seaside towns and villages are becoming extremely attractive to seagulls to feed and rear their young but we urge people to stop feeding seagulls as the expert view is that these birds are scavengers which are thriving, and putting both the public and other bird populations at risk.
Our main priorities are to:
- identify the scale and locus of the problem
- adopt environmental measures to reduce food sources
- discourage people who regularly feed scavenging birds
Many people who have gulls on or around their property find them annoying.
Common problems include:
- Noise caused by calling gulls and by their heavy foot falls
- Mess from droppings falling on washing, gardens and people
- Damage to property - gulls may pick at roofing materials or nest in gutters
More serious problems include:
- Birds can dive and swoop on people and pets. This usually occurs when chicks have fallen from the nest and adult birds attempt to prevent them coming to harm by frightening away potential threats
- Blocked gas flues caused by nesting materials can have serious consequences if gas fumes are stopped from venting properly
Guidance on the law when dealing with herring gulls
The Council has no statutory duty to take action against gulls.
The law says it is illegal to capture, injure or destroy any wild bird or interfere with its nest or eggs, this includes Herring Gulls. The penalties for disregarding the law can be severe.
However, it is recognised that there are particular circumstances, for example to protect public health and safety, where the Scottish Government and Scottish National Heritage can issue licenses defined in wildlife legislation.
Only the owner or occupier can take action where Herring Gulls are nesting on their property or they can give someone else permission to act on their behalf.
Any action taken must be humane and the use of an inhumane method would be illegal. The use of poisons or drugs to take or kill any bird is specifically prohibited except under very special circumstances and again under specific license.
Control of gulls
Controlling gulls is extremely difficult if there is no evidence that the presence of gulls is affecting public health, air safety or public safety.
There are various methods of controlling gulls within the constraints issued by the Scottish Government and Scottish National Heritage.
Best methods for controlling gulls are:
- Proofing - includes the use of spikes, nets or wires. This is the only sure method of preventing birds from nesting on buildings.
- Education – Gulls are opportunistic and will scavenge waste bins and look for food. It’s important that the public are made aware that gulls are attracted to areas where food is plentiful.
- Don’t feed gulls at home or areas such as parks and other open spaces.
- Ensure litter and other food waste is properly stored and/or disposed of using the bins provided.
- Put waste (particularly food waste) out for collection on the day of collection and not the night before.
Less successful methods, in the longer term, include:
- Culling - Expert opinion is that a large scale cull of birds is likely to be ineffective and the practical aspects of carrying out a cull, in an urban area, are extremely difficult within the existing legislation.
- Nest Removal - This would need to be repeated a number of times during the season as the gulls will rebuild their nest very quickly if it has been removed or destroyed.
- Egg Removal - This would need to be repeated a number of times during the breeding season as they will be replaced quickly by the parent birds.
- Disturbing Birds - There is a variety of methods of disturbing or discouraging birds from particular locations e.g using birds of prey or bird scarers.
Note – Culling and egg and nest removal are all measures which come within the general licenses and any such action must be justified.
How to deter gulls
All owners or occupiers of buildings which have, or may attract, roof nesting Herring Gulls are strongly urged to provide the building with deterrent measures suitable to the individual building.
The principal methods to deter gulls are:-
- Fit spikes to nesting locations e.g chimney stacks, guards
- Fitting of spikes contained in a special plastic base to nesting locations such as dormer roofs
- Fitting of wires and nets to prevent Herring Gulls landing
- Disturbance of nesting sites including removal of nests and eggs