Gone are the days where you ventured to the coast to spot a ‘seagull’. Our warm, high, predator free rooftops have become havens for nesting colonies making them a very common pest in unexpected areas of the UK. This is an upward trend since the mid 70’s as fish stocks deplete and our streets and landfills provide ample food for gulls to feed and raise young on.
Rural and urban gulls are now two distinct populations and don't often mix, says RSPB urban gull expert Peter Rock. Rural gulls will rarely start nesting in urban areas and vice versa. Most remain in the environment they were born in, although a small number do return to the coast to breed.
"There is a raft of differences between the two groups," he says. "Most significantly, rural gulls are in massive decline while the number of urban gulls is rapidly increasing and expected to continue going up.” Nationally its predicted there are over 1 million pairs of urban breeding gulls dominating our roof spaces. The most common species being
- Herring Gull (common grey seagull)
- Lesser Black-backed Gull
- Greater Black-backed Gull
During the breeding season (Approx March - August with peak feeding in July. Gulls can become extremely aggressive in a bid to protect eggs and young. This is when you see reports of gulls swooping on people or their pets in a bid to deter perceived fret or an attempt to grab food. Anyone recall the gull who stole the packet of crisps from the Scottish bakery?
Additionally gulls can cause:
- Noise nuisance caused by distress calls to warn other gulls of perceived danger
- Health and safety hazard from droppings. Slip hazards on pathways or spread of disease.
- Damage to property caused by droppings or debris from nests blocking gutters and downpipes Serious issues may occur when debris or nesting materials block gas flues, which can have severe consequences if gas fumes are prevented from venting properly.
What can be Done?
All Birds eggs and nests are protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. Under the legislation it is illegal to capture, injure or destroy any wild bird or interfere with its nest or eggs. The penalties that can result from prosecutions under the act can be severe.
General licences issued by Natural England and DEFRA (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) allow specific measures to be taken against species of birds on grounds which include the preservation of public health or public safety.
Any action that is taken must be humane and the use of an inhumane method which could cause suffering to the birds would be illegal. Only the owner of a building or its occupier can take action against the gulls on it and only if those gulls are of the three species mentioned above.
If you would like to find out how we can help you combat urban gulls contact us today
0800 028 7111