How to Solve a Problem like… Seagulls

Cornwall Council is offering advice to householders and businesses to try and head off some of the annual problems caused by seagulls.

Every year there are complaints about noise, the mess caused by gull droppings, damage to property caused by nests and, of course, gulls stealing food and even attacking pets and people.

Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet  Member for Communities, says:  “Gulls are often large and can be quite intimidating. As well as the problems they create when scavenging and stealing food, they are at their most aggressive when chicks have fallen from the nest onto the ground. They are extremely protective parents and adult birds will sometimes swoop and dive on people and pets in an attempt to drive off potential threats – sometimes coming into contact and causing injury. There is action that can be taken now by householders and businesses to help head off some of the problems.”

The best advice is to deter them from nesting in the first place.  Just removing nests will not solve the problem on its own. The birds will just build another nest in the spring.

Householders and businesses should arrange to remove all nests and nesting material from buildings now and then discourage the gulls from coming back by fitting plastic or metal spikes in the nesting and roosting areas of the roof.  Wires or netting can also be effective and it is important to make sure that all potential nesting and roosting sites on the roof are protected, especially behind chimney stacks.

Geoff adds: “The steps you take may be more effective if you join forces with your neighbours, and it may keep the cost down. There are a number of companies available to carry out proofing. You can find them on the internet, in the local papers, Yellow Pages or Thomson Local. The work you do will be most effective if you take advice from professional persons or companies – DEFRA, Natural England or most pest control companies.”

Don’t forget gulls are not only attracted by good nesting sites, they need food too so the advice is :

  • Don’t feed the gulls
  • Don’t leave lids off bins
  • Don’t put rubbish out too early
  • Do cover rubbish sacks to prevent attack by gulls or other pests
  • Seagull proof rubbish sacks can be purchased from One Stop Shops
  • Don’t drop litter
  • Avoid eating in the street.

Most gulls are protected by law from any interference or action to control them. However, in exceptional circumstances, licences can be issued by Natural England to authorised pest controllers to tackle the problem.

For up to date legislation and advice please refer to the following:

  • DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs): 08459 33 55 77
  • Natural England: 08456 00 30 78

Further advice can also be found on the RSPB website.

 

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