Survival guide set to give gulls the bird!

Handler Stuart Riley with Harris Hawk, Storm
Handler Stuart Riley with Harris Hawk, Storm

Aberdeenshire Council is aiming to help its communities give problem seagulls the bird with a new project starting this spring.

A five-year plan aims to tackle the problems caused by some gulls, which can be seen attacking people for food in some town centres.

As part of the long-term project, a Seagull Survivor’s Guide has been produced to provide information on what can be done about the issue.

The issues caused by the sea birds nesting and scavenging in communities were particularly bad last year in towns like Peterhead and Stonehaven.

Problems include:

• Noise - raucous calls and squabbling start at dawn and go on all day.

• Mess caused by droppings, and the litter strewn from bins as they scavenge.

• Damage to property and corrosion of vehicles.

• Attacks on people and pets.

There is no quick fix and control measures need to be kept up for several years to be effective.

The key lies in reducing the birds’ ability to breed successfully and limiting the supply of food.

The council does not advocate the killing/culling of gulls or their young. The focus is

on deterrents, preventative measures and on nest and egg removal, which will have a lasting effect on the gull population.

Council services including environmental health, property, housing and waste have come together to develop the plan to work together with communities to improve the situation.

While the council has no statutory duty to take action against gulls, it does recognisethe need to protect communities. However, it cannot do this alone, and everyone has a role to play in preventing problems.

The link between food waste, litter and attacks on people and pets is an important one and the council takes its own preventative measures.

Chairman of the council’s infrastructure services committee, Peter Argyle, said: “The best approach is to take action to deter nesting, but the council has no legal powers to force owners to carry out preventative works nor to undertake treatment during nesting.

“We are reliant on the cooperation of owners and occupiers to firstly recognise the issue and then to take appropriate steps as early as possible.”

Aberdeenshire Council has a preferred contractor arrangement with Pro-Check Environmental Services (Northern) Ltd who will carry out works to deter problem gulls nesting on domestic, commercial and industrial buildings.

Preferential rates have been negotiated for all property occupiers and owners in Aberdeenshire.

They will also carry out nest and egg removal..