At Weymouth and many other locations throughout the UK gulls are frequently moving into urban areas. A ready source of food and the erosion of their natural coastal habitat has brought them into increasing conflict with people and businesses.
In the Weymouth Harbour area the resident gulls were attracted by the ready source of food from bins and litter also finding the nearby buildings ideal for nesting. One of the issues was the amount of gull fouling found on the pontoons, it not only looks unsightly but is a slip hazard to users.
Additionally gulls nesting in the area meant the gull behaviour in some instances became aggressive with the gulls feeling the need to protect their nests. This aggression was directed at anyone in close proximity to their nest site with ‘attacks’ affecting the visitors to the harbour and local businesses. The problem had reached a point where an effective plan was required to tackle the problem to ensure the health and safety of harbour users, residents and businesses.
Weymouth harbour is a charming harbour offering on-shore and offshore facilities to locals and visitors. The harbour is managed by a team from the Weymouth & Portland Borough Council who work with local businesses and the community to maintain the services and facilities.
The harbour had over the years had a gull problem and in recent years this had worsened as the gull population grew. Previous pest control companies have been unable to provide a solution so the harbour team turned to NBC. As the UK’s leading experts and nationwide supplier of pest and bird control solutions we frequently deal with the increasing number of gull problems that affect the public and businesses. Gulls and all wild UK birds are protected by law so a thorough survey and report is essential to establish the correct and legal course of action.
The legal position & compliance
All wild birds are protected by law but certain activities are permitted under a licence which would otherwise be illegal. Certain gulls although relatively common have ‘Red’ status due to the continuing decline of the UK population.
At Weymouth our bird control teams completed environmental and risk assessment surveys to thoroughly understand the gull problem. This included identifying sites outside of the Weymouth harbour’s project specification that could contribute to the gull problem.
The Herring gull (Larus argentatus)
The report findings showed that gulls were present in the area at 3 major nesting sites – the council building, the gas tower and the ferry terminal. Having identified this the immediate problem was to reduce the impact on the private and commercial users in the harbour area. At the time the gulls were nesting so hawks could not be flown, in addition 2 of the sites contributing to the problem were not part of the customer’s specification.
As a historic problem the other stakeholders in the harbour are also keen to find a solution to the gull problem and had engaged another company with whom our team worked with to ensure successful gull control in the harbour area.
The immediate solution was to employ an intensive gull scaring programme in the harbour area to reduce the presence of the gulls. This would also prevent the gull mess being deposited and the risk of slippage or the spread of bacteria from the gull guano. The bird control team flew a Harris Hawk in areas where the gulls were not nesting. In areas where the gulls were nesting the hawk was not flown but its presence as a deterrent maintained on the ground with regular hawk patrols on the glove of its handler.
Additionally the other stakeholders in the area were contacted and engaged on the problem to work towards a complete solution.
If you have a gull problem and need advice talk to a member of your local team on 0333 567 2020.